Article: BFI unveils full programme for In Dreams Are Monsters Blockbuster Season

The BFI has announced the full programme for In Dreams Are Monsters, a major BFI UK-wide film and events season celebrating the horror genre on screen, taking place from 17 October-31 December at BFI Southbank and cinemas nationwide.

In Dreams Are Monsters is supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and the ICO. The BFI’s annual blockbuster returns in full force on big screens across the UK following hugely successful previous blockbusters including Japan, presented digitally during the pandemic, Black Star, Musicals and Sci Fi.

In Dreams Are Monsters coincides with two big screen horror re-releases, both of which will be screening at the BFI Southbank. It’s the 40th anniversary of Tobe Hooper’s all-time horror classic Poltergeist (1982) and the 20th anniversary of Alejandro Amenábar’s double BAFTA nominated The Others (2002), which features a chilling performance from Nicole Kidman.

Five mythical horror archetypes

In Dreams Are Monsters is a fresh, inventive and inclusive take on the horror genre tracing how the imagery of  nightmare has been created through film, and how stories of monsters have always been political. Through five mythical horror archetypes – the beast, ghost, vampire, witch and zombie – In Dreams Are Monsters explores how these monstrous bodies have been represented on screen over the last hundred years and how they have been reclaimed by new voices in horror filmmaking. Each archetype doesn’t so much inform a sub-genre as it does a taste for horror.

Whether it be the creatures that lurk in the shadows, or those that come from within, the beasts of cinema are our darkest fears made flesh. The witch threatens the patriarchy with her alternative, gendered power: her magic and sexuality destabilise the masculinist social order. The ghost embodies the silenced classes: a domestic sign of broader, social horrors taking place. Vampires, the most seductive of monster archetypes, blur the lines between horror, action, eroticism and romance, whilst the zombie is the most overtly politicised of all cinematic monsters, a rotting blank canvas for social commentary.

In Dreams Are Monsters promises something for everyone, the horror aficionado as well as the horror novice: tales of blood and seduction; of glorious, excessive gore; of teenagers turned monstrous and of the dead risen and angry. The season’s lead programmers Michael Blyth (BFI Festivals, senior programmer), Kelli Weston (writer) and Anna Bogutskaya (writer/broadcaster), alongside Jason Wood (BFI Executive Director of Public Programmes & Audiences), offered insights into the extensive and exciting programme via a live digital Q&A.

Introducing the programme launch, BFI Executive Director of Public Programmes & Audiences, Jason Wood, said: “Monsters have always been a part of us – in the stories we tell ourselves, our collective imagination, and our shared nightmares. Radical ideas, innovative stylistic choices, considered and impassioned social commentary have been the foundations of horror filmmaking throughout film history. This is a genre which has given voice to the unheard, a platform to the ignored and provided community to those excluded from the mainstream. Horror is the genre of our times; it speaks both to and for everyone.

UK-wide programme of over 35 special events

The season will also feature a UK-wide programme of over 35 special events and screenings supported in partnership with the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) including these four special commissions by leading regional horror festivals and the ICO tour:

  • Mayhem Film Festival (Nottingham, 13-16 October) is presenting a “Night of the Cat” double bill exploring the mythology of the Bakeneko (monster-cat) which begins with Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko (1968) with live score from Nottingham-based artist Yumah and concludes with a 30th anniversary screening of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (1992).
  • Abertoir (Aberystwyth, 15-20 & 25-27 November) is presenting a nationwide event celebrating the blaxploitation horror genre in partnership with the Bristol Black Horror Club. A special 50th anniversary screening of Blacula (1972), the first studio-made horror film by a Black director, will be followed by a live panel discussion on the blaxploitation horror genre by guests including the director himself, William Crain, making his first ever UK appearance. The event will be broadcast live via satellite into venues across the UK, to reach audiences nationwide.
  • Grimmfest (Manchester, 19-20 November) will be working with the MMU Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies to present their Monsters and Movies series of screenings, in-depth Q&As and talks with some of the most important creative minds behind a host of iconic monster movies including a conversation with Neil Marshall about his seminal female-led creature feature The Descent (2005).
  • Celluloid Screams (Sheffield, 20-23 October) will be working with immersive cinema pioneers Live Cinema UK to present a 30th anniversary live cinema experience of Ghostwatch (1992). Resurrecting the original spirit of the broadcast for a hauntingly-good immersive celebration of the paranormal in Sheffield (21 October, Peddler Warehouse), at BFI Southbank (28 October) and across the UK.

Other UK-wide BFI FAN programme highlights include:

  • Chapter (Cardiff) will present a season focusing on “The Monstrous Welsh” and folk horror as a space for exploring identity and representation. The programme will include an event around the use of Welsh language in Saint Maud (2019), with a discussion on “The Treachery of the Blue Books” and the suppression of Welsh language.
  • Across October, Ghouls on Film will celebrate the history of witchcraft and folklore at The Black Box (Belfast). A month-long exhibition of work from local artist Triona Doyle will end with a day of folk horror events (30 October) including a Samhain creative market, traditional Irish folk music performance and screenings of The Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971)and Robert Eggers The Witch (2015).
  • As part of the Foyle Film Festival, Nerve Centre (Derry) in partnership with In Your Space Circus will create an immersive cinema experience inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) recreating a teen horror slumber party (26 November).
  • Riot Productions will host an All-Nighter Film Festival in Glasgow on the Winter Solstice (21 December). Centered around the “transgressive witch” and its feminist renaissance, the programme will span 100 years of cinema, from Häxan (1922) to Dario Argento’s original Suspiria (1977) alongside a Queer Witch themed club night.
  • In the Hebrides, Screen Argyll’s It Came From The Deep will explore local audiences’ complex relationship to the sea. Alongside screenings of The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954), Bong Joon-ho’s The Host (2006) and Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water (2002) there will be an illustrated talk “Surrounded by Water – Our Elemental Fear”.
  • On the Halloween weekend Storyhouse (Chester) will create an atmospheric pop-up space at the Carriage Shed, to celebrate the season’s theme. From FW Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) through to Let The Right One In (2008) and Twilight (2008) Storyhouse examines the vampire figure as a metaphor for deviance, whether sexual, religious, or cultural and for a fear of societal change.
  • Abbeydale Picture House (Sheffield) in collaboration with Reel Steel will present a Hammer horror retrospective weekender, accompanied by a free exhibition of original cinema release quad posters from a local cinema historian’s private collection. Halloween weekend will also see a rare 35mm double bill of Candyman (1992) and Hellraiser (1987), accompanied by demonstrations of 35mm projection equipment by the Projected Picture Trust.
  • On 27 October, Hull Independent Cinema will host a double bill screening of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) and Nosferatu (1922) at Hull Minster, with live score accompaniment and a panel discussion about the evolution of the vampire on screen and how the figure mirrors real-life anxieties and preoccupations of the time.
  • From October to December, Warwick Arts Centre will present Show Me Your Teeth, an exploration of feminism and the representation of women in vampiric tales. The season will include a programme of films from early cinema to contemporary titles and accompanying short films.
  • At the Electric (Birmingham), Beauty into Beast: Werewolves, Women & Wild Shapeshifters will explore the evolution of shapeshifting women: how their on screen portrayals and audience perceptions are a reflection of the changing role of women within society and a threat to patriarch, with a programme including live stream Q&As for The Howling (1981) and Ginger Snaps (2000).
  • In Oxford, The Ultimate Picture Palace will put on a one-day Vampire Film Festival (15 October), featuring titles such as Fascination (1979), The Hunger (1983) and The Addiction (1995). The introduced programme, from film critics, academics, and horror aficionados, will explore themes ranging from class to sexuality and gender, addiction to socio-economic decay.
  • In Clevedon, the Curzon will host an immersive screening of John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) (4 November) in the historic 110-year-old cinema: projection mapping, ghostly apparitions and fog machines will expand the film from the screen into the audience’s space. A digital radio station will run live in the build up to and after the event, using broadcast samples from KAB Radio 1340 as heard in the movie.
  • At Watershed (Bristol) Home is Where the Horror Is (10 December) will be an immersive all-nighter in partnership with Bristol Black Horror Club and immersive horror studio Stormjar. Exploring how monstrous manifestations of site-specific horror allow us to explore identity, class, gender, sexuality, race, mental health, and bring the radical and political roots of horror to the form. The event will include screenings of Demons (1985), Near Dark (1987) and Tales From The Hood (1995).
  • Multi-artform venue Exeter Phoenix will draw on its dark history as the last place in England where women were hung as witches, through a series of features, short films, immersive walks, live scores and zines. Four events will be delivered between October and December, including an immersive short film screening at Exeter Castle/Rougemont Gardens, and a celebration of “the Dark Lord” with a screening of Everything is terrible! The Great Satan (2017), in partnership with Spinning Path.

The full BFI FAN UK-wide screenings and events programme is available here

The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) is also offering a menu of horror films for regional exhibitors looking to put on In Dreams Are Monsters themed screenings. The selection of titles will introduce audiences to the genre’s cinematic history and ability to explore radical ideas about monster archetypes including classic titles: Dog Soldiers (2002), The Fog (1980), Ganja & Hess (1973), Häxan (1922), The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), The Bloodettes (2005) and Night of the Living Dead (1968). Participating venues include Depot (Lewes), Prince Charles Cinema (London), Africa in Motion (Edinburgh, Glasgow), Broadway (Nottingham), Tyneside (Newcastle), Moana Art (Oxford), Queen’s Film Theatre (Belfast), Plymouth Arts Centre, and more.

BFI IN DREAMS ARE MONSTERS is a major celebration of a century of Horror film, led by BFI and Film Hub Midlands who manage the Network’s Major Programme initiatives on behalf of the BFI Film Audience network, supported by funds from the National Lottery.

+ In Dreams Are Monsters

Impact Areas

Focus Areas