Centrefold / Just for the hell of it: Fantasy film lovers in first British convention shock

It's a Starburst reader's dream: Britain's first Fantasy Film Festival, headed by an interview with director John Carpenter. He'll be discussing his latest film, In the Mouth of Madness, which will precede the interview, and although the screening has been sold out for some time, the movie is scheduled to open here later this year. A browse through its credentials suggests a return to form after Carpenter's recent lacklustre turn-out. Jurgen Prochnow plays horror writer Sutter Cane, whose latest novel In the Mouth of Madness promises to send its readers crazy with terror. But the manuscript never arrives, and its author vanishes. His editor (Julie Carmen) is assisted by a grubby detective (Sam Neill) in pursuit of her ward, but their search leads them headlong into a hellish world apparently of Cane's own creating.

With a sterling cast that also includes Charlton Heston, and extensive work by Industrial Light & Magic, we might forget that screenwriter Michael De Luca penned Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead - The Final Nightmare. Carpenter maintains that De Luca's script veers 'more towards Luis Bunuel than traditional horror'. This, along with his assertion that 'we are going to show the beasts from beyond coming through the barrier, because you have to do it', implies that the macabre heights of The Fog are back within Carpenter's reach again.

But this is just the start. Fantasm '94 offers four previews - the animated features Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the Japanese Apple Seed, the Tim Burton-produced camp fantasy Cabin Boy, and Dellamorte Dellamore, which currently brandishes the trophy for being Italy's highest-grossing horror film, though admittedly the competition is wanting.

Two video horrors, APEX and Warlock - The Armageddon get a big-screen outing, and Doug Bradley, aka Pinhead in Hellraiser, will be milling around, looking menacing no doubt. He'll give a talk illustrated by film excerpts and Pinhead props but for God's sake don't venture any acupuncture jokes.

Fantasm '94 runs from 29-31 Jul at the NFT, South Bank, SE1 (071-928 3232) Waterloo/Embankment tubes

(Photograph omitted)