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Festival programme

This year we've got so many talks, films and performance we've had to spread them over three days!

Friday October 26

Saturday October 27

Sunday October 28

Select which events you wish to attend and buy your tickets or the money-saving VIP festival pass from our tickets page.

All timings are approximate and can be subject to change due to technical or other unforseen circumstances.


Friday October 26, Opening event 
Friday Oct 26
Downham Market Library.  Doors open at 7.00pm for a 7.30 pm start

Black Shuck! Black dogs and other curious creatures from East Anglian folklore.

We are very pleased to have writer, storyteller and folklore expert, Dr Maureen James opening Fear in the Fens 2018 with a talk on Black Shuck - the notorious hell-hound of East Anglian folklore.
Dr James will be making comparisons with other black dog myths around the UK and also exploring some of the other curious creatures of East Anglian folklore.

Please note that seating is limited in this venue, so booking early is advised



Watch Dr James introduce her talk here:

Saturday October 27
Saturday October 27, Downham Market Town Hall
Doors open at 10.00am for a 10.30 am start

Event 1: 10.30am - 12.45pm

Talk: More Deadly Than the Male; Women and the Gothic Sensibility


... In which our heroine encounters madness, hysteria, confinement, subversion, desertion, and disappointing sex.
From Ann Radcliffe, by way of Scooby Doo, to mediums and mad houses, Christine Pike takes us on a lively romp through some of the byways of classic Gothic fiction.

Curator, performer and sculptor 
Christine Pike is a lifelong fan of Gothic fiction and is the inspiration behind Lady Chillers - a touring project created to revive the works of forgotten women authors of the supernatural and uncanny, in atmospheric performed readings.

Film: The Haunting  (1963)
Although shot in the UK and using substantial British talent, The Haunting is a key example of American Gothic in film.
Based on Shirley Jackson's novel , the drama focuses on two strong female characters, rather than the male leads.

...and despite being made over 50  years ago, with virtually no special effects, The Haunting remains one of the scariest films ever made. 

Certificate 12

Lunch: 12.45pm - 2 pm
Event 2: 2 pm - 4.15pm

Nasty, brutish and short

One of the key features of Fear in the Fens is that it offers local filmmakers the opportunity to show their films on the big screen to a festival audience. This year the standard of quality of entries has been very high indeed.
Details of the eight selected films can now be seen on our shorts page. See the selected films.

PLUS! Speak to Spoke! Q&A with local record label








Spoke Records, seekers and purveyors of rare and esoteric vinyl will be live-mixing horror soundtracks throughout the day during breaks. We'll be taking time out to talk to them about their work, 
their influences and the tech involved in bringing lost and forgotten recordings back from the dead!

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Coffee break: 4.15 - 4.45 pm
Event 3: 4.45 - 6.30 pm
exorcist house.jpg

Talk: Borley Rectory and other Ghosts: Encounters with an 'Exorcist'
Note: Change to programme
Sadly due to filming commitments Jason Figgis and John West will not be appearing as advertised in year’s festival, but in place of John’s talk, Dr Maureen James will be introducing a brand new talk.

Dr James recounts her meetings with retired minister John Cranmer Dening, who performed the equivalent function of Exorcist for the Church of England. Before his passing in 2008 at the age of 86, he shared accounts of his dealings with ghosts and other supernatural entities with Dr James, including his own involvement with Borley Rectory itself. Some of his accounts appear in three books that he self-published.

Film: Borley Rectory (2017)
Over six years in the making, Borley Rectory has been  a real labour of love for its creator, Ashley Thorpe; combining traditional filmmaking technique with an elaborate mix of rotoscoping, digital animation and compositing, using a mixture of live action, stills, paintings, and model work, to offer an immersive, atmospheric, and elegantly retro-styled exploration of the Most Haunted House in Britain. Starring the League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith.

Certificate 15


Dinner break: 6.30 pm - 7.30 pm
Event 4: 7.30 pm - 9.45 pm

Talk: Dr Charlie Oughton
We are very pleased to be inviting Dr Charlie Oughton to close the day with a talk examining the ever-facing change of Gothic and its wider impact on mainstream society. From Mary Shelley to Rocky Horror and the Simpsons via Bride of Frankenstein.




Film: Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 
Although always noted for its visual flair, James Whales's return to the Frankenstein theme is frequently overlooked in favour of Whale's original 1931 film - perhaps because of its moments of whimsy and humour. But for many this is the more satisfying film, in terms of theme and plot.

Certificate PG


Event closes at: 10pm

Sunday October 28
Sunday October 28 - Closing event
No.8 The Old Bookshop,The High Street, Downham Market
Doors open at 5pm for a 5.30pm start
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Christine Pike performs: Tales from the Coulson Archive

Elizabeth Coulson was an East Anglian writer of short horror fiction.  She is believed to have died in 1902 and, obscure during her own lifetime, her work would have been completely lost if a trunk of her personal papers and manuscripts had not been discovered at a farm auction in 1981 (and then rediscovered in allegedly strange circumstances in 2007).

Both the bleakness and isolation of her own life and her interest in the occult are reflected in Elizabeth Coulson's work.

Kit Lewis and Christine Pike are now transcribing and editing her fiction for performance to modern audiences.

We are pleased to be closing Fear in the Fens 2018 with Christine Pike's first performance of Tales from the Coulson Archive.

Please note that this event has an early start to allow people ample time to travel home. Seating is limited in this venue, so booking early is advised




Watch Christine introduce Tales from the Coulson Archive here:

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