Thursday 25th of August and as the sun shone down on London town I walked hurriedly from the tube station through the tourist crowds, past the useless leaflet hounds and the free paper pushers towards the Empire Cinema Leicester Square to start my five day horror film marathon at FrightFest 2011.
It seemed to me the year had flown by since the fun and frights of the 2010 fest and I was eager to see what bloody and beautiful brilliance this years FrightFest would bring.
As I turned into Leicester Square the popular picture postcard tourist trap looked like a giant monster had attacked it with the centre boarded up and full of busy workmen perhaps removing dead bodies and excavating alien remains.
Inside the cinema the atmosphere was just as frantic with horror fans filling every crevice and cranny awaiting the start of the nights first film Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
I headed straight to my seat, FF35, my new home for the next few days and on the way in was greeted by the lovely staff of the Empire who handed me a limited edition Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark poster which I eagerly snapped up and secured safely in my bag.
The cinema was quiet at first with plenty of lights and camera’s set up to cover all the action about to take place. Slowly but surely the hordes of horror fans where herded in talking as they took their seats about what films they where most looking forward to. Watching the crowds I spotted Andy Nyman in a spectacular jacket that which made him look like a 70’s quiz show host, extremely appropriate considering his quiz was taking place on Sunday.
As the auditorium filled the anticipation rose until I noticed the lights dim, the music stop and the curtains to the screen open, FrightFest 2011 had begun.
What it began with was Jack West’s hilarious Escape From London part of the five short films commissioned by FrightFest and ID Films to celebrate the work of John Carpenter. Staring FrightFest’s own Greg Day it was a great parody full of action and in jokes perfect to open the festival and get the crowd going.
As it ended the four men responsible for FrightFest took to the stage – Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray, Alan Jones and Greg Day to greet the crowd and thank them all for coming. They gleefully greeted the audience telling us all that 2011 is the biggest FrightFest ever with 37 films with eleven countries represented, seven world premieres and a record-equalling twenty UK or European premieres all under 1 roof in two screens. After their heart warming welcomes it was on with the first movie the eagerly anticipated Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Although Guillermo del Toro sadly couldn’t attend FrightFest as he was in Canada filming his monster movie Pacific Rim he did send a personal video intro apologising to the fans for not attending and that his movie wasn’t as graphic and gory as FrightFest audience would have wanted.
The movie was however an excellent old school scary story more concerned with building tension and terror than showing shocks and gore. Telling the twisted tale of a young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend (played by Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes) she discovers tiny creatures living in the basement that have lived there for centuries and now want her to come and join them.
Combining a modern horror with a dark fairy tale edge all wrapped up in an a great script by del Toro and beautiful art design and set design Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark plays on all our childhood fears proving the very reason why we should all be afraid of the dark, very afraid indeed.
After a brief break we where all treated to something completely different, some world exclusive footage from Cockneys Vs Zombies introduced by the people behind the movie. The footage looked funnier than a zombie stuck in a car wash and with such a great title its bound to be a cult classic.
Final Destination 5
Film number two was a first for me at FrightFest in that it was a 3D horror the fifthquel in the Final Destination series Final Destination 5. Grabbing my glasses as I went back to my seat I was excited to see if this instalment revitalised the series I loved after episode 4, also in 3D, had disappointed me so much.
Thankfully Final Destination 5 did not disappoint at all in fact it is one of the best of the series and the 3D is used to amazing affect upping the fun factor ten fold. Following the same structure as all the other films it follows a group of co-workers who escape a suspension bridge catastrophe after one of their number has a premonition of impending doom.
Wracked with survivors guilt and freaked out by the fate filled words of a mortician (played by the legend that is Tony Todd) that Death has a plan and it will not be cheated the gang get even more scared when one of their number dies in a horrible and gory gym accident. Soon they all start to fall as fate follows them and they realise you can’t outrun the grim reaper.
Packed full of amazing and original accidental deaths that will have you covering your eyes and laughing your ass off Final Destination 5 is the horror film that proves 3D can work well when given the right movie.
Day one ended with the European premiere of Theatre Bizarre introduced by the crew. Featuring six weird and wonderful tales it was the perfect late night movie to end the day on.
As I left to head home amongst the other horror heads who had stayed out till the end I was already excited what Day 2 would bring. FrightFest 2011 had well and truly begun and there was still so much more to come.
LoveHorror at FrightFest 2011 Day 2 Here