On Sunday 11th of May, the Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley rang with the sound of screams and groans of horror. No, they weren’t showing the latest Adam Sandler movie; it was just the annual Zombie Film Festival.
Now in its seventh year, Leeds’ Zombie Film Festival is still run by its founders, Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnrock (perhaps better known as Emmerdale’s Paddy and Marlon). The idea for it apparently came about on set one day as the two discussed their mutual love of all things undead and shambling, and they still give a short introduction before each film to explain what it is and why it was selected. Nowadays, their passion for zombie films has become something of a cult cultural event.
Across the course of twelve hours (midday to midnight), a wide selection of films are shown, which run the spectrum of big-budget blockbusters like World War Z to entertainingly bad schlock such as Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. This year, however, there was more of a focus on indie films (fitting with the choice of venue), and so audiences were given the chance to witness some pieces of zombie cinema they might otherwise not get to see. This, at least, ensured there were some more ‘mature’ films in the line-up, including Jeremy Gardener’s excellent The Battery.
Fans, of course, are invited to turn up in full fancy dress, which must have confused a few runners taking part in the half marathon, also taking place that morning. Hopefully it provided a few of them with a little more motivation. What’s more, those audience members who stick it out for the full twelve hours will be invited to an after show party at a nearby pub.
All the profits from the event are given to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), so even if a few films do bore you, you’ll know your money’s going towards a good cause. Unfortunately, it’s too late to catch it this year, but if cult or indie horror’s your thing, attending next year’s event should be a must.
Charnrock once said in an interview we fear zombies because they “are the end of civilisation.” If the end of civilisation is anything like the Film Festival however, it might not be too bad.
Follow the Zombie Film Festival on Twitter @LeedsZombieFest