Well, it's been a very busy 5 days but FrightFest 2009 was without a shadow of a doubt the best yet. To tell you the truth I feared that the new location, The Empire in Leicester Square, would be too large and that this celebration would lose its friendly atmosphere. But these fears were soon laid to rest when the first movie, the world premiere of Christopher Smith’s Triangle. This intelligent and pretty bizarre tale set the tone for the festival as it one of the most unpredictable.
The variation in movies was extensive; we had giant bug invasions in Infestation, hack ‘n slash action in The Hills Run Red,, brutal revenge in The Horseman and Dracula Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl which can only be described as a total gore-fest! There were some wonderful discoveries too, The Human Centipede»
The atmosphere was electric at the Empire tonight as two of the most anticipated movies of the festival were getting their world premiers, Philip Ridley’s Heartless and from Jon Harris The Descent: Part 2. Both brought most of their major cast with them so autograph hunters and the press alike were dashing around to be beside the likes of Jim Sturgess, Noel Clarke and Shauna MacDonald.
Before Heartless was shown the main star, Jim Sturgess performed two musical numbers culled from the movie's soundtrack. It was an astounding moment, this guy can't just act he has an amazing voice. Then came the movie which was as dark as it was deep. An urban psychologicl chiller with dollops of fantasy mixed in, the movie is destined to become one of the big hits of the very near future.
Same can be said for The Descent: Part 2 which looked lush on the Empire's huge main screen. Intelligently taking up the story from where the first installment finished it was probaly one of the lo
There was an added bonus this afternoon with a quick look behind the scenes of up and coming horror movie Tormented. We were shown how certain gags and effects shots were created for if but if I told you what they were it would spoil the surprise!
One of the most refined pieces of the event so far was Christian Alvert’s chiller Case 39 which stars Renee Zellwegar and old Lovejoy himself Ian McShane. Loud, bleak and stylishly shot, it seemed to mix the atmosphere of The Twilight Zone with the possession themes seen in The Exorcist and The Omen. Not everyone’s cup of horror I agree but it was nice to see Zellwegar stretching her acting skills more than usual. Her character of Emily, a Social Worker who helps re-house a child whose parents were trying to kill her was believable. Star has to be Jodelle Ferland who played the young victim. This is a young lady to watch as she gave her character of Lillith mature depth and a real sense of honesty.
Leicester Square was under attack from a horde of zombies for most of this morning! Loads of people, many daubed in their own make-up designs groaned and limped around the Empire cinema as members of the undead to herald the world premiere of Zombie Women Of Satan. Its events like this that makes FrightFest stand out from other horror movie festivals. All these people, old and young, come together and really enjoyed themselves and shared their love of horror movies. A wonderful if gruesome moment.
Talking of love, I’ve just met one of Hammer Studio’s most glamorous actresses, Madeline Smith and she was amazing. This silver screen legend had popped in to help promote a new book dedicated to the women of Hammer movies and was a joy to chat to. The book, entitled Hammer Glamour is a luxurious look at the memorable beauties that starred in such much loved movies as Dracula, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and Twins Of Evil.
John Landis arrived on stage last night with his usual burst of infectious energy to present his legendary piece, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I'd forgetten just how groundbreaking it was for its time and to see it up there on the big screen made me appreciate just how cinematic it was, whilst at the same time making me feel incredibly old. Was it really that long ago? Landis then screened The Making Of Thriller which has only ever been screened once before in a theatre. Again this was a bitter-sweet experience and reminded us all of people at their creative peak.
Today is sadly the final day of FrightFest 2009 but the team have planned a day to remember. We have a Zombie Walk to celebrate the showing of Zombie Women Of Satan, the premiere of Philip Ridley first movie since 1995, Heartless and the closing movie is the anticipated shocker The Descent: Part 2. It's going to be another memorable finale!
The Empire was crammed for the world premiere of Adam Gierasch’s new movie, a remake of the 1988 classic Night Of The Demons. Bloody and violent but in a retro kind of a way, the film packed plenty references to the original whilst also twisting some of the movies more infamous sequences. Yes, I am talking about the lipstick moment! The pounding soundtrack surely could have been heard across Leicester Square as it was heaving with so much bass it made my shorts shake.
Adam Green, he of Hatchet fame, gave the audience a sneaky peak at footage for his new chiller, Frozen. Now this looks really cool (sorry, couldn’t resist) as we saw three people stuck on a chair lift at its greatest height. With the resort closed for five days the stranded trio decide to try and make a jump for it. Big mistake. I won’t spoil it for you but this does look like the first must see movie of 2010. Right I’m off to see what Mr Landis has in store for the FrightFest crowd.
Director Tommy Wikola was on hand to introduce his blood-splattered zombie movie Dead Snow earlier today. This charming and softly spoken Norwegian gave the FrightFest crowd exactly what they wanted; blood, guts and a good time! Set in a bleak snowy landscape the movie concerns a group attacked by angry and hungry Zombie Nazis. Combining humour and gross-out effects it contained the perfect comedy/horror balance so rarely seen in horror cinema these days.
Click here for an interview with Tommy Wikola.
We travelled to the other end of the horror spectrum for the next movie, the world premiere of The Human Centipede (pictured). Off-the-wall doesn’t really begin to describe this original piece from director Tom Six. It’s the story of a mad scientist, Dr Josef Heiter (played with stunning menace by Dieter Laser) who decides to surgically graft three people together. Though we don’t really know why he does this the movie is not
One of the most talked about movies of FrightFest 2009 is Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, an old school anthology movie with a solid cast including the legendary Brian Cox. It didn’t disappoint as it was filled with all the gore and humour a horror fan could possibly want. The acting was never too hammy, the effects first rate and the script shone like a freshly polished pumpkin.
How could you follow such a piece of work? Well the boys presented the only short this year from a Britsh director, Sad Case. This is a bizarre and original tale of psychotic madness, heartfelt angst and surreal situations all from the point of view of a suitcase! Honest, I'm not making his up!
Yoshihiro Nishimura’s and Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s, Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl was the late night offering and contained everything you'd expect: loads of blood, sexy young ladies and questionable humour.
Sunday brings more blood and guts with its first movie, Dead Snow, w
FrightFest has bagged another contemporary classic this year by showing the remarkable thriller Millennium: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This complex yet satisfying drama concerns a multi-pierced lady who has a dark past and a disgraced journalist who team up to solve a series of murders that occurred years before. Stylishly directed by Niels Arden Oplev, it dissected their fragile relationship without diluting the tension between them. At over two hours long the film never seemed padded, instead it captivated the audience and earned some of the most positive comments of the festival so far. More good news is that this is to be a movie trilogy with a further two movies due in the near future.
One of the traditions of FrightFest is Trailer Trash a compendium of teasers from movies that are so bad they are considered classics of their genre (whatever that may be!). Tonight’s selection contained a movie entitled Cannibal Women which has to be one of the most bizarre movi
Smash Cut certainly split the audience but the director Lee Demabre and star David Hess really did work the FrightFest crowd with great confidence. Their Q+A session was hilarious ending with Hess doing a solo acoustic set!
One of the best things about FrightFest is the exclusive treats and previews that the team manage to get for the event. Today we’ve had a sneaky peek as George A Romero’s next zombie flick, Survival Of The Dead. This very short but amazing sequence really got the crowd whooping with delight. Let’s just say it involved a guy fishing for zombies! Look out for it in cinemas early next year.
Saturday promises to deliver another collection of stunning premiers on the big Empire screen. But let’s not forget the Discovery Screen where people can catch films that either didn’t make to the final list, the team feel need to be seen on the big screen or are just great fun. One of the movies that caught my eye here is the re-imagining of Larry Cohen’s 1974 cult shocker It’s Alive. Fingers crossed director Joseph Rusnak has captured the eerie atmosphere of the original piece.
But back to the main festival and the day is kicking off with Lee Demabre’s much talked about shocker Smash Cut. Set as a satirical look at independent horror movie making the cast contains many cult actors including David Hess from the original The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes favourite Michael Berryman. Fingers crossed that this one hits the target it's aiming for.
Directors Adam Green and Joe Lynch are firm favourites with the FrightFest crowd and this year the duo have returned with another series of comedy/horror shorts that are being shown each evening. Last night our very own Emily Booth got a mention in their second piece, much to the pleasure of the FrightFest crowd.
After this Italian rock Star Frederico Zampaglione unleashed his debut horror movie, Shadow which really did whip the crowd into a bit of a frenzy. This charming man has produced a terrifying and rather shocking piece of horror that is graphic and rather beautifully shot. His main character Mortis the butcher, who is played with absolute conviction by Nuot Arquint, will become one of horror cinemas scariest and most evil looking bad guys. For many, the toad licking sequence was the stand out moment. It was also the loudest movie of the festival so far.
The night ended with what surely has to be the bloodiest movie ever shown at FrightFest, the MO Brothers production Macabre
It’s been an afternoon of sheer delight for all at FrightFest as John Landis was in the house to introduce his classic movie, An American Werewolf In London. More on that later. First up was Beware The Moon: Remembering An American Werewolf In London from director Paul Davis. This superb documentary looked at the legendary piece of horror cinema from every angle and captivated the audience. Paul must have interviewed most key players from this movie and got some incredible anecdotes from them. A fan boy dream for sure.
Then it was the turn of John Landis. This guy is a true legend and seemed to enjoy every moment in front of the FrightFest audience. He introduced a remastered edition of An American Werewolf In London which looked incredible on the Empire’s big screen. The depth and colour was startling and made Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning effects look even more amazing. After performing a lengthy Q+A as well as an enormous signing session Landis truly cemented his repu
I promised to let you know if The Horseman was as violent as its reputation had lead us to believe, and it’s a resounding YES! This incredibly bleak, raw and yet highly emotional movie is not for the squeamish or weak of stomach (some of the torture scenes had many men in the auditorium crossing their legs in pain). It was extreme, raising debate as to whether such acts of revenge can be justified in anyway. Hard going stuff indeed.
Luckily to overcome this emotional shock-fest we have John Landis, a documentary and a cinematic classic. Oh yes, this afternoon contains the world premiere of Beware The Moon, a documentary that dissects the making of the John Landis classic An American Werewolf In London which is followed by a showing of a remastered version of the movie itself. Oh I can’t contain my excitement!
Thursday night ended on a real horror high. Deadwalkers proved that even low budget shorts can look as good as any Hollywood project, whilst Kyle Rankin’s Infestation had us all itching in all the wrong places! A solid “giant bug invasion” movie, it provided as many jumps as it did laughs.
Today’s programme contains bloody revenge, hungry werewolves and Euro horror so let’s start with the first topic. There have been a few notable revenge movies over the last few decades with titles such as Death Wish and I Spit On Your Grave springing to mind. But the first movie of today, The Horseman promises to take the genre up a gear being billed as an unflinching tale of ultimate tragedy and definitive retribution. I’ll let you know in the next Blog if it does push the violence envelope.
Hurrah! FrightFest 2009 has finally launched boasting one of the strongest line-ups in its 10-year history. First up was the world premiere of Christopher Smith’s psychological shocker Triangle. This cleverly constructed piece of cinema had the audience entranced from the first frame and contained quite an effective and creepy pay off in the final reel.
Same can be said for the hack ‘n slash splatter-fest The Hills Run Red which followed. This polished piece of old school horror took the slasher genre to a new place and packed a bloody punch. Those who saw the barrel of guts scene will fully agree with me. Cinema has a new anti-hero and its name is Babyface!
Next up it’s the cracking zombie short Deadwalkers which is followed by the inventive and hilarious creature feature Infestation. More on these a bit later…
There are still a few hours to the launch of FrightFest 2009 but the Zone Horror crew has already been very busy. We’ve had a quick chat with Shadow director Federico Zampaglione and are now on our way to have a few words with Christopher Smith whose new movie, Triangle is getting its world premiere tonight at 6.30. The film, which is billed as his best work yet, is set at sea where a young woman encounters a living nightmare. With hits such as Creep and Severance under his belt this is one movie that has had us all talking.
Well we’re all packed and on our way to FrightFest 2009, filled with anticipation and excitement of what the next five days might reveal to us. But which movie will be the events most talked about feature? Which big stars will grace the Q+A sessions? And what juicy bits of gossip will Emily and the crew be able to uncover? Keep checking this Blog every few hours to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
So which movies are you looking forward to the most at FrightFest 2009? There’s an amazing selection as usual but for me the movie that stands out is Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl. It’s been a long time since we had a movie title like that and if the images I’ve seen are anything to go by then this could be the hit of the festival. Taken from a Manga source the film looks rich in colour and high on gore as well as a way-out plot and a blood-splattered finale. Can’t wait!
One of the most anticipated events at FrightFest 2009 occurs on Friday August 28th, the World Premiere of Beware The Moon! This documentary from Paul Davis (pictured) charts the making of the John Landis classic from 1981, An American Werewolf In London. A remastered version of the movie is being shown directly after this. Can't wait! All going to plan Paul Davis and John Landis will be present making the screenings even more special.