Dundead 2023: Q&A with Michael Coull


26 April 2023

There's just a few weeks to go until Dundead 2023! We can't wait to welcome you for a weekend full of brand new horror, creepy classics and a David Cronenberg retrospective. To find out more about this year's festival, we caught up with Dundead Programmer Michael Coull to chat all things horror...

 I was a full pass-holder that first year back in 2011, so it’s a festival that’s close to my heart.  

Tell us a little bit about the history of Dundead. 
Dundead launched in 2011, with a mix of classics and brand-new scares, and I think that mix of old and new has really been the ethos ever since. Since that first year, we’ve run retrospectives on Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, as well as a programme of Stephen King adaptations, among others. I came on board programming for Dundead during the pandemic. Chris O’Neill did a brilliant job of programming the festival before me, and I feel really fortunate to have taken up the mantle. I was a full pass-holder that first year back in 2011, so it’s a festival that’s close to my heart.  

Satanic Hispanics

What can people expect from this year's festival? 
Hopefully an edition which builds on the success of the last 10+ years! I’m really happy that three out of the six new films on offer have been directed by women (and one of the segments in the anthology Satanic Hispanics was also directed by a woman), I think that’s really exciting. On the repertory side, we’re presenting a retrospective on the iconic films of David Cronenberg. And there’s a special chance to see 1973’s Messiah of Evil, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, which is a film that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. 

If there’s any one filmmaker working in the horror genre who most fits the idea of the auteur, I’d argue it’s Cronenberg.

What is the impact of David Cronenberg on the horror genre? 
If there’s any one filmmaker working in the horror genre who most fits the idea of the auteur, I’d argue it’s Cronenberg. He really created his own style and subgenre. While you can see the influence of someone like George A. Romero in the social commentary of some of Cronenberg’s early films, there wasn’t really anyone making films in what we now come to recognise as the “body horror” subgenre. Among the bodily transgressions, and extreme mutations, there’s also often a clinical atmosphere to a lot of Cronenberg’s films and a philosophical, existential tone to the dialogue that I think was, and still is, unique.

In terms of modern film-makers that he has influenced, the most obvious examples would be his son Brandon Cronenberg, who’s swimming in quite similar waters as his father (we recently screened his latest film Infinity Pool), and Julia Ducournau, director of Raw and the Palme d’Or-winning Titane, who is one of my favourite filmmakers working today and who I think is really pushing the horror genre to new and exciting places.  


Favourite David Cronenberg film? 
Tough question! I’m going to be pragmatic and preface my answer by saying that I love all the films we’ve chosen to spotlight as part of this year’s festival. But for a personal favourite, it’s between Videodrome, The Fly and The Brood. Videodrome is the only one I’ve seen in the cinema before, I think, but it will look stunning in 4K on the big screen. Maybe a new favourite will cement itself after watching them all again on the big screen over the festival! 

Messiah of Evil

What film are you most excited for the Dundead audience to see?  
It’s always exciting to be presenting a film’s premiere, knowing that our Dundead audience will be among the first people in the world to be watching something, and I can’t wait to see what our audiences think of this year’s films – we’ve got five premieres, and one preview.   

One thing I really like doing with Dundead is also championing films from years gone by which maybe don’t have the following they could or should. We had a great screening of The Vampire Doll last year, which was quite an obscure pick, but it went down really well, and I’m really happy to be screening Messiah of Evil for its 50th anniversary this year. I’m interested to see how our Dundead audience react to it, and whether they have seen it before. It’s flown under the radar a bit over the years, but it’s gorgeous, and it will be such a treat on the big screen.  

Thanks Michael!

Tickets are now on sale for all of this year's festival films - take a look at the full line-up here. If you want to join us for everything, get your hands on a full festival pass for £93. This includes tickets to all 12 films, plus the Dundead Film Quiz and includes a festival t-shirt and limited edition print. Six-film passes are also available. These are £48 and include a festival t-shirt too. To get your hands on a pass visit our Box Office in person or call 01382 432 444 to book. We can't wait to see you in the cinema!

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