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Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival celebrates H.P. Lovecraft’s 130th anniversary

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15th HÕFF will take place online. The festival has subsequently had to make changes to the film programme. The list of announced films is available here.
The full programme will be announced on April 30, 2020.

The Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival aka HÕFF, a side-festival of the Tallinn Black Nights, celebrates the 130th anniversary of the influential sci-fi and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, screening three films based on his films, including the latest release Color Out of Space.

H.P. Lovecraft is, after Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe, at the top of the list of writers who have influenced genre filmmakers over the years, with directors like Guillermo del Toro, John Carpenter and Brian Yuzna naming him as an inspiration. However, the festival fully acknowledges and will communicate this accordingly during the event, that the man’s legacy is morally mixed, as he has also produced writings that express explicitly racist, xenophobic and anti-semitic views.

Considered as one of his favourite works by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), Color Out of Space is a story about a mysterious meteorite that falls to the lands of a farmer called Gardner and gradually turns their lives into a nightmare. This tale of cosmical horror, one of Lovecraft’s trademarks, was directed by Richard Stanley, known for cult films like the cyberpunk sci-fi Hardware and the road horror Dust Devil, with Nicholas Cage making another outrageous genre performance as the leading character Gardner.

The film was produced by SpectreVision, the production company founded by Elijah Wood, among other people, which is behind films like Mandy and The Greasy Strangler (both screened at Black Nights). Having premiered at the Toronto IFF, Color Out of Space has had a strong festival run, including screenings at several of the leading genre festivals like Sitges and Fantastic Fest.

The other two films to be screened are Andrew Leman’s The Call of Ctulhu (2005), directed as rediscovered ‘lost silent film’ and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985), the horror-comedy of a medical student who invents a reagent that can re-animate deceased bodies.

Opening film

HÕFF has also announced the opening film which is the horror-comedy Come to Daddy, directed by the debuting Ant Timpson (producer of Turbo Kid and Deathgasm). The story follows a privileged ‘man-child’ (Elijah Wood) visiting his estranged father in a coastal cabin. He soon realises that his father has a shady past that is about to catch up with him. The film’s world premiere was at the Tribeca FF.

About the festival

The Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festiva is the biggest genre film festival in the Baltic countries. The festival is organized by the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, one of the largest author cinema festivals in the region together with the Haapsalu Culture Center and the City of Haapsalu. Part of the festival’s unique atmosphere is derived from its location – an ex-Soviet culture center with three cinema halls renovated in 2010 to its full crystal glory.

In 2012, HÕFF became a part of the European Fantastic Festivals Federation Méliès, holding an international short film competition, the winner of which will compete for the Golden Méliès at the annual Méliès awards ceremony held in autumn.

The 15th Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival will run for four days this year, from the 30th of April until the 3rd of May. The festival will screen over 35 films from 15 countries.

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