Edmonton’s most depraved festival gets the dead out

This is not a festival you can bring the kids to.

But if thrills, chills and brutal gore are your thing, DedFest will be right up your alley.

“We like to call it ‘The best in fucked up cinema,’ ” says Derek Clayton, who co-produces DedFest with his friend Kevin Martin.

This year will be the film festival’s biggest yet, with 14 movies lined up for screenings at Metro Cinema’s Garneau Theatre Thursday through Sunday.

DedFest, which began as Dedmonton four years ago, focuses on horror flicks but also ventures into sci-fi and anything that might be a little too crazy for Cineplex Odeon.

A wide range of Edmontonians come out for the festival, to catch films that range from hysterically cheesy to deeply disturbing.

“We get everybody coming out. We get doctors, we get lawyers, we get bartenders, we get whomever. We get the stereotypical horror fan that you’d see, kind of like long hair and tattoos, but then we get people that you wouldn’t expect,” Clayton says.

And contrary to what some think, it’s not just dudes who enjoy such debauchery.

“One of the things that we’ve definitely noticed in the past couple years is … I’d say at least 50% of our crowd is female. And not just coming out to see the movie because their boyfriend drags them, but people that are actually invested in the films and definitely love the genre,” he says.

“I think it’s one of the big myths that women don’t like it. I always hear that.”

Clayton and Martin have struggled to grow DedFest while competing with more established film festivals like the Toronto International, which often demand world premieres and exclusivity on hot indie titles.

Slowly but surely, however, Clayton and Martin are putting DedFest on the map.

“We’re starting to get to the place where we’re not having to track down movies so much as the movies are coming to us, which is nice,” Clayton says.

One of the biggest draws this year will be festival closer The Woman (top picture and trailer, below), which stirred up its share of controversy at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Lucky McKee, the violent film follows a family that captures a wild woman living in the woods and attempts to “tame” her.

“It will push a lot of buttons,” Clayton says.

“It’s definitely controversial. And we want to show it, because Lucky’s always been a very feminist director, yet for some reason this film has drawn a lot of ire in the opposite direction – people saying (he’s) not a feminist.”

On the lighter side, DedFest will present Monster Brawl, starring Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley – in which Frankenstein, a werewolf, a cyclops, and other monsters pound the crap out of each other in a wrestling ring – and Chillerama, a Creepshow-style anthology from up-and-coming horror directors (pictured right).

“(Chillerama) is gory, funny, rude, crude, just everything you’d want out of a good Saturday night to sit around and watch with a few beers,” Clayton says.

By the way, unlike your typical night at the movies, DedFest is a licenced event.

One of Clayton’s personal favourites of this year’s bunch is Burke and Hare, a true tale of two men who start a grave-robbing business in 1820s London. The film is directed by John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, An American Werewolf in London) and stars Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead).

DedFest will also haul out the cult classics, including John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York (top left), set in a chaotic future world … in 1997.

In addition to the films, DedFest will screen the winners of its inaugural fake movie trailer contest and stage a Zombie Unbeauty pageant.

With plans to expand to Vancouver, Clayton has big dreams for the festival’s future.

“We’d like it to be THE festival, at least in Western Canada, for horror films. We want it to be like the Fantasia of Western Canada,” he says.

“We want to put Edmonton on the map as much as possible.”

Tickets are available here and at the door.