Saint Patrick’s day is just around the corner, and here at Filmstrip we are paying homage to Ireland’s rich and enchanting folklore in film.
Abhartach may have influenced every vampire film to date. The Abhartach was a deformed and evil Irish chieftain who ruled over what is now Garvagh in Ireland. Feared to be a dark wizard, villagers call on a neighbouring chieftain, Cathain, to slay him, but Abhartach rises from the grave and demands a bowl of blood from his townsfolk. After seeking the advice of a Christian Saint, Cathain killed Abhartach and weighed him down with a stone, to prevent him rising again. Some say Abhartach was the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Apart from leprechauns, Banshees are perhaps the most recognisable Irish folklore creatures in film. The most iconic portrayal comes from the 1970 horror flick Cry of the Banshee starring Vincent Price. A Banshee is a female spirit that warns of a family member’s death by wailing or shrieking. In other words, if you see one, wrap your granny in cotton cool.
In both Irish and Scottish folklore, the Sluagh are spirits of the restless dead. Unwelcome in both heaven and hell, they fly like flocks of birds causing destruction while hunting for souls. Currently in post-production, producers and actors for the indie movie The Sluagh are crowdfunding to finish this found footage horror film.
Award-winning animated fantasy film The Secret of Kells explores a variety of Irish mythology and folklore. Perhaps the most prominent depiction is that of Crom Cruach, the “king idol of Ireland” and the Primitive God of Sacrifice, as a villain. In the legend, each year children are sacrificed to ensure good harvests and fertile crops, until Saint Patrick drives him out.