Another August Bank Holiday weekend has just left us, and along with it so too has this year’s Film4 FrightFest. The UK’s premier horror film festival continues to go from strength to strength and this year was certainly no different – filled with thrills, chills, spills, controversy, legendary guest appearances and more. Dread Central was on the scene for the five days of the fest, braving malnutrition, sleep deprivation and impaired liver function to bring you all the pics, news and reviews we know you crave!
Of course, if you’re a regular follower of the site, you’ll already be aware that the opening film was the world premiere of Adam Green’s excellent Hatchet II (review here). Along with him, Green brought stars Tony Todd, Danielle Harris and Kane Hodder to give the audience a well received Q&A session after the screening as well as a poster signing. Kane also stayed around the entire weekend to mingle with the fans, strangle a few folks (this reporter included) and generally be the all-round amazing guy that he is. It would also be prudent to mention our very own Uncle Creepy getting a round of applause as soon as he showed up on screen in Hatchet II. A punter was also spied sporting Rotten Cotton’s “DEAD” t-shirt, featuring our beloved editor’s rotting mug from Survival of the Dead. Congratulations, Creepy! You’ve made it to the UK!
Once the buzz of Hatchet II’s successful screening was under way, we were then treated to the quite frankly horrid (and not in the good way) Primal (review here) and the underwhelming Brit flick Dead Cert.
FrightFest always kicks off in earnest on the second day (the first of an entire full day of films), and this year did it in truly grand fashion. Appearing at the festival was the one and only Tobe Hooper – here to view his early work and a screening of the seminal The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; however, the centrepiece of his appearance came in the form of Total Icon – a 45-minute moderated Q&A with the man himself presented by UK magazine Total Film.
Festival organizer Alan Jones informed us that Total Icon is set to become a yearly thing for the fest with an iconic horror filmmaker being invited every year to screen a piece of his or her work and engage the audience in discussion. It’s a breathtaking idea and truly deserves to take off. Here’s looking to John Carpenter!
Once this was complete, Tobe was gracious enough to stick around for an exceptionally busy signing session.
Premieres continued with Tammi Sutton’s Isle of Dogs, a British gangster-flick-meets-giallo offering that could only be recommended for Andrew Howard’s psychotic performance (does the man do anything better?), and hoodie-horror shocker F. A full range of guests from both films offered involving Q&A interactions.
To top off the evening, Joe Lynch introduced the latest (and utterly fantastic) Ryan (“True Blood”) Kwanten vehicle Red Hill, which was followed by the late-night screening of the entirely critic-proof romp Alien vs. Ninja.
Highlights of day three at FrightFest included the director and cast of British werewolf flick 13 Hrs bringing along a toothy friend, the Empire making an appearance to celebrate nerd-comedy Fanboys showing in the Discovery Screen, the European premiere of Steven R. Monroe’s rape revenge remake I Spit on Your Grave (review here), Gareth Edwards’ excellent Monsters and the exceptionally bloody Dream Home.
Day four opened with fun French creature feature The Pack, segueing into actor Andy (Black Death) Nyman’s Quiz From Hell. Andy took some time away from the stage of Ghost Stories to pop over and treat us all to an excellent live-action horror quiz projected onto the Empire’s massive screen.
Taking some time out for a bite to eat (the first actual meal of the fest!), Dread returned for the atmospheric old-school chiller Damned by Dawn, showing as a substitute for the originally planned Kaboom. Now, if you thought the words publicly exchanged between Alan Jones and Gregg Araki regarding Kaboom’s removal from the festival were controversial, just wait until you hear what happened to A Serbian Film – For the first time in FrightFest’s 11-year history, Westminster City Council poked their heads in and queried one of the films. That particular film was Srdjan Spasojevic’s brutal and uncompromisingly horrific A Serbian Film (review here). With mere days to spare before the fest, Westminster told the organizers that they may only screen a BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) approved version of the film. At this point the film was submitted with the BBFC, coming back a couple of days later requesting that nearly 4 minutes of footage be excised.
With only four days until the screening, Revolver Entertainment and the organizers decided not to go ahead with the screening for multiple reasons; firstly – they didn’t want to subject the audience to a butchered version of, to quote Alan Jones ,”a film that we really stand behind”, and second – the BBFC could easily come back again and claim that the cut version submitted required further cuts – in which case time would likely run out before the screening was to happen. With director Spasojevic having flown in to London specifically for the screening, the disappointment was palpable albeit short-lived as the surprise replacement film – the UK premiere of new Ryan Reynolds-starring thriller Buried (review here) – proved to be one of the best movies of the weekend.
It was a delight, then, that such a great film was followed by another of unexpected quality in the form of Sean Byrne’s exceptional Aussie schocker The Loved Ones. Trust me – seek this one out as soon as you possibly can.
A somber Monday morning heralded the final day of FrightFest 2010 and started on a high note with Jake West’s brilliantly received documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape. Focusing on the UKs legendary media-led “Video Nasty” witch hunt, it does a fantastic job of not only being the voice of reason but presenting the cold, hard facts that were simply ignored or manipulated in favor of knee jerking and emotional illogic during an embarrassing period of Britain’s recent history.
This was followed up by an entertaining and interesting panel discussion regarding said history – though Tobe Hooper seemed a little out of his depth as he obviously had very little, if any, knowledge of just how bad this particular era was for those marginalized, attacked and even criminalized for nothing worse than having a film on a shelf. The documentary will apparently be released soon in a 3-disc set named Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide. I, for one, cannot wait to get ahold of it.
The Ford Brothers’ astounding zombie flick The Dead gave us yet another FrightFest premiere with the directors, cast and crew in attendance. Taking a basic road movie and transplanting it into zombie-ridden Africa, The Dead makes zombies frightening again. Not since the heyday of Romero or Fulci have the walking dead been so skilfully handled.
Later, some bloody Korean revenge was dished out in Jang Cheol-so’s emotional hit Bedevilled followed by Simon Rumley’s devastating Red, White & Blue (review here) (with director Rumley and stars Noah Taylor and Amanda Fuller in attendance).
The final punctuation to yet another great year at FrightFest found Eli Roth unleashing his inner rock star for the first time on the London stage at the UK’s premiere of Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism (review here).
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the weekend came with many more surprises such as our previously reported visit by the Human Centipede‘s director Tom Six and Adam Green/Joe Lynch’s announcement of Chillerama. On top of that, a special screening of the opening moments of Frank Darabont’s upcoming “The Walking Dead” TV series was presented to a delighted audience (introduced by star Andrew Lincoln), Jim Mickle’s Stake Land found itself giving up a 5-minute preview (if you’ve ever thought, “why haven’t we seen a vampire eat a baby?” well – you’re in luck!) and some truly exceptional short films formed the legendary Short Film Showcase (not counting another year of The Douche Brothers’ Road to FrightFest series).
Keep your eyeballs glued to this page for more updates as content is finalized. We have a full range of reviews coming your way to let you know which films you REALLY need to be looking out for soon and, quality allowing, some Q&A recordings. In the meantime you can dig on our full picture gallery here!
If all of this isn’t proof enough that you really, really ought to get saving for next year, then we don’t know what will! If you do manage to attend … see you there!
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