Running for 5 days from Thursday the 23rd of August to Bank Holiday Monday 27th August the Empire Cinema in London’s Leicester Square presented 48 films in three screens making sure there was something for every horror head at all times of the day.
Showcasing films from all over the globe with plenty of World and European premieres and a whole host of guests FrightFest the 13th proved that if you love horror then you need to be here.
Day 1 began for me as I headed up to the Empire Leicester Square and picked up my hallowed press pass along with the brilliant goody bag which this year contained 2 books and a copy of Martin one of our top 10 vampire movies of all time.
Heading into Screen 1 which housed all the main screen films I took my seat FF27 and drank in the atmosphere like a vampire at a blood bank. People bustled on slowly but surely and soon the whole screen was full ready for FrightFest to start.
After a brilliant and necessary anti phone film feature Ian Rattray, comedian Ross Nobel took to the stage to introduce the men behind the madness Ian, Paul McEvoy, Greg Day and Alan Jones.
Nobel who stared in Stitches playing on Friday relished the opportunity to take his comedy into a darker side mulling over how macabre he could go and have us all cheer. As you can guess it was pretty dark before he decided to stop after saying this is what Frankie Boyle must feel like.
After a brief hello and thank you from the amazing organisers it was onto the first film The Seasoning House a dark and harrowing story set in a whore house in the Balkans where a deaf mute girl is forced to prepare the enslaved prostitutes for evil costumers.
After the film director Paul Hyett and stars Rosie Day and Sean Pertwee took to the stage for a Q and A on how the movie was made. They spoke of the ambitions project all shot on an RAF base in Uxbridge and the directors plans to make a trilogy of war horrors which would get darker as they went something at this stage after seeing The Seasoning House was hard to imagine.
Proving the unpredictability of the crowd one audience member asked if the film could be reedited as he had found it unconvincing causing a battle of heckles from the crowd for and against the movie
Next was Cockney Vs. Zombies and after a quick intro from the director writer and producers, who said the film was made for the fans, the movie began.
Lots of fun and packed with action Cockney Vs. Zombies contains every cockney cliché in the book and is all the better for it. The Q and A afterwards was a lively affair with stars Alan Ford, Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway and Michelle Ryan answering audience questions with aplomb and writer James Moran providing a lot of laughs.
Day 1 ended with Grabbers a fun end to what had been a brilliantly British opening salvo of horror and invigorated and excited I journeyed home ready for Day 2.
Friday for me was extremely exciting as the first film was the reedited edition of Nightbreed The Cabal Cut. A labour of love by Russell Cherrington who had pieces together 2 VHS copies and footage from the 80s movie to restore Clive Barkers vision in full from his original script. The film may have looked terrible but delivered such truer Nightbreed and a much more interesting story.
As the discussed in the Q and A afterwards along with original stars Nick Vince, Hugh Ross and Simon Bamford the Cabal Cut was a work in progress and hopefully with the interest created by the festival screening and online campaign www.occupymidian.com it would result on the film companies giving the full access to the footage so they could complete their quest and I for one hope they do.
While another one of our trusted reviewers watch The Victim in the Discovery screen next in the main screen was the Total Film Icon interview and what am icon it was the mater of Giallo himself Dario Argento. Eloquent and entertaining even on broken English he spoke of the past and present with honesty and you can read more about what he had to say right Here.
Next was Hidden In The Woods a nasty Chilean horror with some of the most shocking scenes at the fest including incest, cannibalism, mutilation and lots and lots of blood. Personally I thought it was rubbish however I couldn’t help but like director Patricio Valladares a cheeky character who admitted to ripping off the government to make his movie under false pretences resulting in them never talking to him again.
V/H/S one of the most anticipated films of the fest followed and although it was an awesome idea as a portmanteau found footage frightener frankly it was a bit of a disappointment especially the Ti West section.
[Rec] 3 Genesis however did not fail to entertain and excite the crowd and the great combination of horror and comedy worked well smashing the Rec cycle with an entertaining interlude to the main story which we where all told would be concluded in [Rec] 4 Apocalypse coming soon to end the story.
The last film was Stitches and Ross Nobel returned to premiere his tale as the sleaziest clown working the children’s party circuit in Ireland whose life takes a turn for the terrible.
Saturday Day 3 began with something completely different as Inbred’s played in the Discovery screen with a live directors commentary the main screen showed Eurocrime! a documentary about the poliziotteschi genre that ruled Italy in the 70’s.
Mike Malloy’s brilliant movie featured interviews, clips and more all thrown together in an ultra stylised way perfect to represent the genre of guns, gore, girls moustaches and the mafia making me want to go out and buy all the films featured.
Outpost II: Black Sun carried on the Outpost series with aplomb and there where plenty of Nazi zombies in attendance along with the cast and crew for all the fans of the film.
We where all given 3D specs for the next film Paura 3D made by the Manetti Bros who also brought The Arrival of Wang to FrightFest this year it was a nasty torture porn type horror set in one house where a group of idiotic friends are thrown into fear when the discover the owner has a secret in his basement. With over 90% of the film shot in 3D the effect worked reasonably well however the film itself failed to engage or excite.
A brief break in the movies next as FrightFest, in partnership with Variety Magazine, presented the inaugural Variety Award at FrightFest to renowned special effects and make-up artist Greg Nicotero.
A veteran of the business Greg has worked with all the greats from Romero to Rami and done around 800 movies since 1988 some of the most famous of which where shown in the scintillating sizzle reel before the award was presented including Predators, The Mist, Sin City and The Walking Dead as well as many many more.
During a special interview on stage Greg spoke about his career and the best recipe or making fake blood before special guest and good friend of Greg’s Simon Pegg took to the stage to present him with the award.
After all the celebrity excitement Under The Bed followed and ended up as one of my favourite films of FrightFest an 80’s homage coming of age creature feature intelligently made and well plotted with an all out ending that delivered gore and greatness.
The same couldn’t be said for Tulpa Federico Zampaglione modern day Giallo which came across as more of a parody of the genre rather than a celebration with some of the awful lines and terrible dubbing inspiring great laughs from the crowd which I am sure was not intentional.
Saturday ended with Maniac a remake of the 80’s slasher shot from the killer’s point-of-view with star Elijah Wood seen only in reflections, on CCTV and in photographs. Working well this art house slasher is definitely one to look out for.
Sunday is usually a day of rest but as I donned another horror related t-shirt and headed up to Leicester Square I knew that with a day of films and fun ahead of me there really was no rest for the wicked.
The Thompson’s started Day 4 with a blood sucking bang and then it was over to the Re-Discovery Screen for a slice of Hammer with The Mummy’s Shroud introduced by Kim Newman. Camp and cheesy and lots of fun it was good to see a classic proving that FrightFest is not just about new thrills but celebrating horror’s heritage as well.
While We Are The Night and The Inside played in the Discovery Screen having missed the Quiz and the Short Film Showcase I returned to the Main Screen for Sleep Tight a suspense filled thriller in the vein of Polanski and Hitchcock via modern day horror that is.
Loved by the crowd Spanish director Jaume Balaguero talked in his Q and A afterwards about making the movie and how it came about admitting to the crowd that he had tried some of the stalkers moves on his own wife hiding under her bed for 2 hours before he got bored which could either be seen as great research or deeply disturbing.
Another one of my best films of FrightFest followed the barmy and brilliant Berberian Sound Studio a 70’s set claustrophobic psychedelic trip both literally and figuratively into the world of one man’s madness as the amazing Toby Jones plays a sound engineer hired to work on an Italian horror movie.
Director Peter Strickland spoke afterwards about making the movie and his love for the genre of films which inspired it and the equipment featured in it with some great questions coming from the crowd as well.
The trailer for the new Ben Wheatley movie Sight Seers gave us a taste of what the Kill List director has for us next which seemed to be a ultra dark comedy about a couple going round England bumping off people along the way.
The fantastic films kept coming with Sinister next introduced by writer C. Robert Cargill this ultra scary tale of a true crime writer who moves into the house of the victims of his next book had plenty of jumps and spooks which had the audience screaming especially the lady 2 seats down from me.
Dead Sushi ended Sunday with a Japanese slice of surreal gore and soya sauce perfect for the late night slot and I left the cinema crazily craving a California roll.
All too soon it seemed it was Monday 27th and the last day of FrightFest the 13th 2012 and as I took a look at myself in the mirror seeing the wolf man staring back at me and smelling just as bad I knew that although it had been amazing fun I sure did need a shave and a bath.
A quick wash and a new horror t-shirt would have to do as I had films to watch so I headed back to central London for the last day of monster madness and serial killer stupendousness.
One of the most hyped films of FrightFest opened the last day American Mary brought to us by the ever crazy and overly happy Soska sisters who dressed in matching tight leather outfits introduced the film.
The films sees Katharine Isabelle playing Mary a medical student who unexpectedly takes a trip into the dark and disturbing world of body modification an as she works on abstractly altering other peoples bodies she ends up losing her own mind.
Although I wasn’t all that blown away by it the film went down an absolute storm and as the Soska sisters took to the stage with star Katharine Isabelle they where met with applause and questions which they eagerly answered telling the crazy story of the films inception via a chance email from Eli Roth.
Following some crazy grindhouse trailers including Curtains we where treated to a trailer for a new horror play The Hallowe’en Sessions playing at Leicester Square Theatre and written by Kim Newman, Sean Hogan and others presented to the crowd for the first time.
After came After a fantasy tale about a coach crash crossed couple who awake in their hometown to hind they are the only ones there. Working out quickly that all is not what it seems the pair must fight literally monsters from their past in an attempt to escape back to the real world.
Jennifer Lynch introduced her serial killer psychodrama Chained next a disturbing film about what makes a man into a monster. She spoke in length afterwards about the difficulties she had had making the movie an how many of her decisions had been over ruled by the studios hinting that the movie was not her complete vision something lets hope is rectified once it comes out on DVD.
Pollyanna McIntosh and writer and director Paul Davis took to the stage to showcase a short they had made Him Indoors a comedy horror about a shut in serial killer
The final 2 films more than made up for the couple of disappointments before hand with The Possession telling a well seen story of a young girls possession by an ancient demon but giving it a few new twists along the way.
With a great cast and some super scares it is well worth a watch especially if paranormal horror is your thing and lets face it these days whose thing isn’t it!
The closing film of FrightFest 2012 was also one of the best the British made thrilling horror Tower Block penned by James Moran and staring Sheridan Smith and Russell Tovey.
Original and innovative this like so many other movies during the horror film festival is one you need to see proving you never know what you will find at FrightFest.
And so it was all over for another year but as I made my way home on the last tube and thought back on all the great horror I had seen it seemed to me that although they said 13 was an ill fated number FrightFest the 13th had been very lucky for me and hopefully everyone else that attended.
Want more FrightFest 2012 coverage? Watch Zombies2’s daily video blog starting Here and see all the pics from the fest starting Here. Look out on the site for full reviews of all the films mentioned coming to LoveHorror soon.