“Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes. Turn and face the strange” sung David Bowie and never was a truer word said when it came to FrightFest 2016 a place where a whole lot of strange can and will happen on screen and all around.
Having finally gotten used to the new Vue venue the major change this year was a move from Leicester Square out to the wild west of Shepherds Bush to the Vue across the road from the massive all consumer consuming black hole that is Westfields shopping centre.
Although worried at first what this change might mean to FrightFest wandering out of the underground station and across the extremely busy crossing on Thursday 25th of August, the first day of the fest, I was more than surprised to find that the number one horror festival in London was fitting in just fine with the logo emblazoned over the window of the Wetherspoon’s and the digital cinema display outside reading 5 Days of Horror films for all around to see.
Shepherds Bush Vue cinema is located inside West 12 a shopping centre with a mixture of shops some good and some bad but all very useful when it comes to stocking up for a long bank holiday weekend watching horror movies.
With a Morrison’s for my meals, CEX to get some cheap horror Blu-ray’s, the excellent Esquires Coffee House to feed my caffeine addiction and two Pound shops ( thats 2 £1 shops not some crazy £2 shops!) for any and all bits and bobs I needed plus a whole lot more I was ecstatic and already far from missing the over priced tourist infested useless bars and boutiques of Leicester Square. And the toilets, did I mention all the toilets? There where so many toilets and all of them free, free from both entry charges, perverts and piss covered seats, what bliss!
What was also great was how FrightFest had truly taken over not only the cinema but also the shopping centre itself with posters everywhere, horror themed music pumping out of the speaker system and even some shops getting involved in the action offering discounts to pass holders and even special horror offers.
Heading up the escalator to the cinema I already felt at home and after stopping off at the well staffed box office to pick up my press pass I went up again and entered my new home for five days along with a throng of movie t-shirt wearing gore hungry horror heads of all shapes and sizes, creeds and credit ratings all as eager to get FrightFest started as I was.
With more movies than ever before the format followed on from last year with 3 main screens showing the same films at different times and 3 Discovery Screens featuring the more weird and wonderful side of horror out of the mainstream eye. Most films had intros by the FrightFest team and special guest who performed a bevy of quirky question busting Q&A’s afterwards giving the audience so much more than just a simple screening.
Luckily this year we where able to see more than most years and while I took on the majority of the movies Zombie1 and some of our other reviewers saw several films as well meaning we could bring you more reviews than ever before. Although only a few reviews are up so far (click the films or links to read them!) expect the rest to come through as soon as we recover from horror overload. Also with our Five FrightFest Facts From series we got to speak to more horror directors, producers, actors and writers than ever and you can read them all collected right HERE.
With my pass gaining me a special seat in the Splice Media Screen I moved passed the amassing people and the various stalls in the main foyer selling everything from vintage horror mags to clothing to posters and so much more and entered the long corridor of doom where the FrightFest screens were.
Bathed in a eerie light with some brilliant insulation pieces featuring perforated pumping hearts, gas masks and spooky sounds all courtesy of Horror Channel, FrightFest premiere partners this year, I walked to Screen 12 and my seat in P5 for the first film if the fest My Father Die.
A difficult but well made movie it seemed a strange choice to me to open the festival with however the crowd loved it and it demonstrated the variety on offer among the movies on offer. Next up was Cell (review HERE) a film I had already seen and loved. Proudly for Love Horror we had made it onto the poster with a quote and seeing that up all around the festival and even in the FrightFest brochure made me overflow with glee. Sitting through the film a second time it was just as inventively entertaining.
The last film of the opening day was Let Her Out (review HERE) which Welsh Demoness snuck into and very much enjoyed while I headed home to rest and recuperate and get ready for the next four days of frightening fun!
Friday brought with it the sun and the first early start as I made my way across London for the morning screening of The Chamber an underwater military thriller with tons of tension. In the Splice Media Screen this was followed by Mercy a movie I am still not sure what to make of and then two amazing films the supernatural thrills and spills of From a House on Willow Street and the stunning portrait of psychosis Pet starring Dominic Monaghan.
As I went off for what turned out to be an extremely funny interview with From a House on Willow Street’s director Alastair Orr, star Zino Ventura and two producers Mirell Ventura and Ariye Mahdeb our reviewers managed to catch a whole bunch of fantastic films in the three Discover screens including Through the Shadow, Francesca, Another Evil, The Similars, Hostage to the Devil and Lost Solace.
A interesting event exclusive to FrightFest was a live commentary to last years Road Games (review HERE) which I heard from attendees was immensely entertaining although I couldn’t make it as I was seeing Night of Something Strange, the interesting Enclosure and the stag do gone wrong frights of The Unraveling. I also got to view the laugh out loud juvenile delinquency and gross out comedy of Ibiza Undead and the inventive and gripping Population Zero which turned out to be one of my favourite films of the whole festival.
Surprisingly the heat continued onto Saturday so decked out in my darkest most sinister horror t-shirt I braved the microwave oven hot tube trains out to Day 3 of FrightFest 2016 which was set to be another orgy of unhinged horror of all shapes and sizes.
Opening with Abattoir in the Splice Media Screen which had a very inventive idea as its central premise I decided to jump over to the Short Film Showcase in Discovery 1 the first of 3 taking place during FrightFest. I had missed out on watching the horror shorts the last few years but throughly enjoyed the malicious mini masterpieces on display especially The Stylist, Blight and the super disgusting Gwilliam.
As mentioned previously Pet was one of the stand out films of the festival and I was extremely lucky to be involved with a round table interview with the talented Dominic Monaghan who has been introducing his film and enjoying FrightFest over the weekend. Engaging and entertaining he detailed not only the crafting of his character and the making of the movie but happily answered questions about Lord of The Rings a subject he must have spoken about a million times before. He also didn’t mind the fact that I had cyber stalked him in the same way his character does in Pet even letting me check up on my findings and taking it all in very goof humour.
It was set to be a full on Saturday as while our other contributors caught Knucklebones (review HERE) Beyond the Gates and Fury of the Demon I got the chance to enjoy zombie Jurassic Park movie The ReZort, the challenging and unsettling Cruel Summer, House of Salem, The Creature Below and the insanely gory remake of Blood Feast which has a O.T.T ending you wont believe.
On to Sunday and the sky seemed darker than before with the sun all but gone away which was unfortunate for the tons of people heading to the Notting Hill Carnival but great for me as I was spending the whole day in the cinema
In the Splice Media screen I started the day with Johnny Frank Garret’s Last Word Simon Rumley’s latest film and a great horror balancing the directors distinctive style and flair with a much more mainstream and shockingly partly true story.
Crazy carnage in Downhill followed and while Zombie1 watched Realive I headed for Discovery Screen 1 for the hi-tech horror of Let’s Be Evil, the meta and magnificently funny Egomaniac and Crow no not that one another one. Last up and back in my seat in the Splice screen the night ended with Rob Zombie’s latest 31 (review HERE). You can read what I thought about it in the full review but lets just say if the title referred to the running time that would have still been 30 minutes too long to spend watching it for me!
Bank Holiday Monday and the last day of FrightFest 2016 a sad day but one I was determined not to waste. The underground was littered with carnival goers even more evident than ever being that my destination was nearer to theirs. While I am sure they had fun dancing in the streets I had even more watching films in the dark and what a bunch of films it was to end the fantastic festival.
With Blu-ray giveaways taking place in all the screens and a lock in promised after dark in the Splice Media Screen I got to see Monolith, comedy horror Directors Cut and the old school slasher The Windmill Massacre which was hugely enjoyable. Our Love Horror reviewers took on Red Christmas, Here Alone,The Evil in Us and Found Footage 3D while I meet up with the talented Tricia Lee director of Blood Hunters, a film I had caught days before the fest and loved, and we chatted over coffee about her excellent monster horror screening latter that night.
Although I managed to watch Russian supernatural chiller Paranormal Drive and dark pregnancy shocker Shelly it was the 80’s documentary The Killing of America which stood out most of all on the last day. Packed with horrifying real footage of murders, assassinations and more and revealing Americas incessant self destruction during the Twentieth century what was most insane of all is that all of the things detailed are still going on and in fact are even worse over 20 years later.
Proving that the film festival is far more than just monster movies and gratuitous gore it had been a stand out year for FrightFest and Love Horror had managed to watch 47 movies in all with a few of them turning out to be some of the best horrors we had seen in a long time.
The brilliant line up of films, guests and events had all been achieved in a brand new venue proving that the passionate powerhouse team behind FrightFest could make anywhere their home. It also proved that wherever FrightFest is Love Horror and I will be their as well and as Bowie sang ‘“I will sit right down. Waiting for the gift of sound and vision’” and horror of course don’t forget the gift of horror as well!
Watch out for all the FrightFest films mentioned to be reviewed on Love Horror soon and the three interviews to appear as well. In the mean time check out our series of short interviews with some of the talent from the fest called Five FrightFest Facts From which is collected HERE