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Feel the fear of a horror movie frenzy

Are you brave enough for a rollercoaster ride through the bone-chilling, blood-curdling world of horror movies?

Ready to be scared out of your wits at the prospect of things that go bump in the night? Buckle up and take your seat as the 21st annual Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival opens this week in Edinburgh.

That analogy of taking a rollercoaster ride isn't far off the mark. Film purists and theories on cinematic technique aside, people love horror films because it's all about the thrill. That sense of relief - you survived -isn't dissimilar to the feeling when a rollercoaster judders to a halt and the safety bar releases wobbly-legged riders back onto solid ground.

There's another reason, of course: scary movies are all about having fun. Yes, the scripts are ropey and the sets as flimsy as a paper hankie, but still they lure us in.

This year Dead by Dawn celebrates the work of US director, producer and screenwriter William Castle, who was born on April 24, 1914. Lauded as a cinema visionary, Castle was the low budget B movie king, known by cinemagoers for his gimmicks at screenings which included a skeleton attached to wire floating over the audience in the final moments of some showings of 1959's House on Haunted Hill, mirroring the action on screen when a bag of bones rises from a vat of acid and pursues the villainous wife of Vincent Price's character.

To mark the centenary of his birth, House on Haunted Hill and Mr Sardonicus will be shown, as well as a slew of UK and Scottish premieres. Highlights include Scottish actress and Doctor Who star Karen Gillan in Oculus, director Mike Flanagan's feature adaption of his creepy short of the same name about a young woman who is convinced an antique mirror is responsible for the death and misfortunes of her family.

And there is Antoine Barraud's mystical Les Gouffres, aka The Sinkholes, starring Quantum of Solace and The Grand Budapest Hotel star Mathieu Amalric in a tale of a woman's interminable wait in a creepy old hotel while her husband lowers himself into the depths of the earth.

If this is all too much for your blood pressure, dip a toe in the shark-infested waters of Spawn of Dawn. Described as the evil mini-me of the main festival, it is a movie marathon which runs from midnight on Saturday, April 26, and shows five features and up to 10 shorts from the main programme.

Be prepared to be scared - you have been warned!

Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival runs from April 24-27 at Edinburgh Filmhouse. Visit www.deadbydawn.co.uk.

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