By Travis Johnson

Bloodlands by Australian filmmaker Steven Kastrissios (The Horseman) will open the 2017 edition of (deep breath) A Night of Horror International Film Festival and Fantastic Planet, Sydney Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival, which both run concurrently at Dendy Cinemas Newtown from November 29 to December 3.

This is Kastrissios’ second showing at the festival, with his debut feature, The Horseman, having screened back in 2010. ““The film won four of the festival’s major awards that year,” notes festival director Dean Bertram. “And its sold out screening was a favourite of the jury and audience alike. Needless to say we are delighted to have his hotly anticipated sophomore film Bloodlands open the festival in 2017. Shot and set in Albania, the film tells the tale of a traditional family’s blood feud with a witch and her violent clan. And it just oozes atmosphere, mythology and palpable dread.”

Kastrissios will be on hand for a post screening Q&A.

In addition to the titles already announced, this year’s festival will also see the Australian premiere of Ayla, Elias Ganster’s erotic horror starring Tristan Risk (American Mary) and Dee Wallace (The Howling, Red Christmas). Haunted by the mysterious death of his four-year old sister, Elton (Nicholas Wilder) brings her back to life thirty years later as an adult woman. The film mixes eroticism with repulsion and familial love with terrifying obsession –  a haunting chiller which is both genuinely moving and deeply disturbing.

Also on the cards:

Borley Rectory (dir: Ashley Thorpe, UK). This spine-tingling film chronicles the real life story of “The most haunted house in England”. Narrated by Julian Sands (Warlock, Gothic, Leaving Las Vegas), and starring Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen, Shaun of the Dead), Borley Rectory features a mesmerising combination of live action and hauntingly animated photographs from the period. It is unlike any movie you have seen before.

Sixty Minutes to Midnight (Dir: Neil Mackay, Canada). On New Year’s Eve 1999, a construction worker come doomsday prepper (Robert Nolan), finds himself starring on a bizarre game show that kills it’s contestants. He has just sixty minutes to survive, or die trying. With a group of heavily armed men descending on his farmhouse, every second counts. Fresh from its raved about world premiere at Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Sixty Minutes to Midnight is loaded with the type of action that harkens back to the high octane, high body count classics of the 80s and 90s. Prepare to be blown away!

Tickets are on sale now – shoot over to the official site for full details.

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