Here it is at last our complete write up of Arrow Video FrightFest 2018 – Enjoy!
Day: Thursday 23rd August 2018
Weirdo’s in Leicester Square: Two IT clowns
Horror T-Shirt of the day: The Halloween 3 Toy company
Debate of the day: What are you looking forward to this year?
Best Films: Bad Samaritan, Halloween
My second favourite time of the year (after Halloween of course!) was with us once again and as awoke on Thursday 23rd of August bright and early I wondered how I could waste the many hours until the 19thArrow Video FrightFest started that very evening.
Flash-forward to the evening and no longer able to contain my excitement I threw on a horror t-shirt, grabbed my Oyster card and packed all my essential reviewing kit into a FrightFest bag from a few years back heading out of the door and up to the Cineworld Leicester Square for to get things started.
As I walked toward the renewed and renovated Cineworld which used to be the Empire passed the creepy reboot IT clowns outside posing to terrorise tourists, I thought back to the many years I had been lucky enough to attend. Working out this would make it 8 years in a row I thanked the gods of horror and the amazing organisers that I was able to see so many fantastic films over those years.
Taking my seat in the Horror Channel screen upstairs the venue was packed out and buzzing with excitement for The Ranger the opening movie. After introducing myself to the people in the seats around me we soon started chatting about what we were looking forward to seeing. It turned out we each had very different opinions on what to watch over the long weekend which is exactly as it should be in a festival with so varied a slate of shows on offer.
Before that we got a special celebrity hello from the hilarious duo of Alice Lowe and Steve Oram who starred in Prevenge and Aaaaaaaah! independently and together in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. They rambled and ripped into Greg Day, Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Alan Jones the FrightFest organisers relentlessly before bringing them on and then it was down to Paul to bring out the cast and crew of The Ranger for a quick Q&A before the showing.
A fun, gory slasher with some cool killings it made for a great start and next up was the 80’s tastic Summer of 84 (Read our review HERE) a film deliberately evoking everything from Stranger Things to Stephen King. Best of all for me over in the Discovery Screen was Bad Samaritan staring the excellent double bill of David Tennant and Robert Sheehan who both lit up the screen in a terrifying and clever game of cat and mouse.
To top off the amazing opening night a very special 4K pristine restoration version of the original 1978 Halloween was screened to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original cult classic ending the first day with one of my all-time favourite horror films, what more could anyone ask!
Day: Friday 24th August 2018
Weirdo’s in Leicester Square: Hard-core Christians trying to stop me meeting Satan.
Horror T-Shirt of the day: Looking skinny with a Skeleton ribcage on show.
Debate of the day: The state of horror in 2018
Best Films: The Cleaning Lady, Puppet Master, Dead Night
It was Friday and the first full FrightFest film day giving me and my fellow Love Horror reviewers a chance to catch a multitude of movies throughout the day. Getting a lie in as Hayley aka Welsh Demoness watched The Cleaning Lady (Read our review HERE) which she loved I made my way up a bit latter avoiding the fundamentalist Christians desperate to guide me away from the devil to catch my first film.
With a short video intro from the director who told us all to surrender to the experience Braid was a trippy nightmarish art house horror that seemed to divide the crowd whenever I spoke to anyone about it.
Over at The Prince Charles cinema which was part of the festival yet again an intrepid Love Horror reviewer took on the monster movie Seeds while in another screen there my fellow editor Tom aka Zombie1 watched St Agatha a tale of a sadistic Mother Superior from Saw franchise expert Darren Lynn Bousman. Also playing at Prince Charles were crazy future vision Rock Steady Row a dystopian university horror and Lifechanger which saw a murderous shape-shifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves. Both just go to show you never know what you will find playing at FrightFest.
While all this craziness went on I moved over to the Discovery Screen A Bluebird in my Heart was not my sort of thing at all seeing as it was more a violent drama than a horror film but luckily the day was won back by the brilliant and barmy Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Introduced by two horror legends who worked on the film Fabio Frizzi and Barbara Crampton we got the whole story behind how and why Puppet Master has returned and an exclusive tip off that Barbara’s next movie will be a Castle Freak reboot.
Stupid fun from start to finish and genuinely disgusting and hilarious in equal measure I loved it and it reminded me of the originals that I used to love as a teenager. Back in the Discovery Screen another Barbara Crampton film played next Dead Night and it was equally as great. Blending true life crime with supernatural elements it kept me on the edge of my seat right up to the end and Barbara Crampton played a totally different character equally as wonderfully proving why she is such a star of the genre.
The last two films I watched couldn’t have been more different the first being the gruelling and disturbing Incident in a Ghostland from Pascal Laugier director of Martyrs and the second Crystal Eyes an 80’s set Giallo homage set in Buenos Aires the world of fashion. While one chilled my bones the other made me laugh out loud but both where beautifully shot and contained some great performances from the mainly female casts. Another excellent day had gone all too quickly I thought as I headed home the moon shinning in the London sky above me.
Day: Saturday 25th August 2018
Weirdo’s in Leicester Square: A Predator
Horror T-Shirt of the day: Good Guy doll with a knife
Debate of the day: Original Evil Dead vs the Remake
Best Films: Chuck Steel, Laplace Demon
Saturday rose and shone and for many it was the first real day of the festival as sadly lots of people weren’t as lucky as me having only just turned up to start their own FrightFest experience. Out the front of the Cineworld a man dressed as the Predator and although his outfit was better than I could have rustled up at home in my sons dress up box it was nothing compared to the huge model inside the cinema outside my screen which greeted me as I entered.
Making more friends in the Horror Channel screen we chatted about a multitude of things including the obligatory talk about the previous days films, insights on Eli Roth from my new friend who had met him and the original Evil Dead vs the remake. It’s safe to say the FrightFest audience is the best audience in the world because you can go up to anyone you see and start up a conversation knowing you both have a love of horror, even if it will often take you a while to find a shared favourite film.
Ravers was the first movie and although I didn’t feel in the mood to party seeing as it was 11.30am the film was entertaining enough to infuse me with some energy although not like the energy drink in the movie which transformed people into crazy killer “mutant ravers.”
Next was Paul Hyett’s Heretiks and after a brief discussion on the proper pronunciation the film started. A tale of witchcraft and possession in the 17th century it didn’t really float my boat or dunk my witch I should say but it was interesting chatting to others sitting in my row some of which loved it.
As Hayley took on Sci-Horror CTRL in the Prince Charles and Tom watched Japanese meta Zom-Com One Cut of the Dead in another Prince Charles screen I had a great double bill back in the Cineworld that took me from a high brow classic chiller to a rip roaring puerile 80’s action pastiche both of which turned out to be excellent.
The intellectual offering was The Laplace Demon in the Discovery Screen an Italian black and white horror with all the hallmarks of a classic thriller from the creepy mansion setting to the mad scientist who traps a bunch of unsuspecting victims to experiment on.
On the other side of the spectrum was the animated action madness of Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires in the Horror Channel screen a foul fun homage to 80’s movies packed with so many tropes, gags and nods you would think you were watching all of Arnie’s back catalogue at once. The film had the audience in fits of laughter and amazed at how detailed the animation was as well with many of the scenes looking better than a modern day live action movie.
Tom was having a totally different experience in the Cineworld Discovery screen with Dementia Part II a trippy mind-blowing Midnight Movie and tongue-in-cheek sequel to 2015’s Dementia while another reviewer took on FUBAR at Prince Charles which is all about a zombie apocalypse paint balling weekend. My last film was Perfect Skin and sadly it was not the perfect end to the night as it left me many more questions than it should have done. I guess you will have to look out for the review to find out what I really thought.
Day: Sunday 26th August 2018
Weirdo’s in Leicester Square: Anonymous protestors the V for Vendetta ones in the masks not some random just unknown people with question marks on banners.
Horror T-Shirt of the day: John Carpenter crushing heads.
Debate of the day: Why aren’t the Soska Sisters bigger?
Best Films: The Man who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot, Cult of Terror
It was somehow already Sunday and worried I wouldn’t make the most of my final two days of FrightFest I rushed out the door only to reach Leicester Square and be greeted by a bunch of V for Vendetta masked protestors outside the cinema. It was all very over the top as they stood in a square with music playing holding up signs about something I have completely forgotten which proves the stunt didn’t work one bit I guess.
I took my seat and started chatting to a new friend in the next seat who I had spotted a couple of times but never had the chance to speak to. He wrote for the FrightFest blog and had done all sorts of interviews which was really interesting. As an intro for a missing clip of the new Rabid remake by the Soska Sisters came up we started to debate why they had seemingly not made more films or more of an impact on the industry. This chat took up tons of time until the first film started and we respectfully shut up so we could watch it.
Hell is where the Home is started out like many other conventional home invasion horrors but took some nice twists and turns along the way elevating it above other movies in the same genre and it6 had some terribly tense scenes.
While I was jumping about in my seat our reviewers were taking on a multitude of movies from the Argentinian demon movie Luciferina to the British dystopian Sci-Horror White Chamber to Mexican lend of fantasy and harsh reality Tigers are not Afraid and the brilliant documentary Hammer Horror: The Warner Years all about… well you can guess that one can’t you.
Hayley aka Welsh Demoness had a wickedly wonderful run of films starting with psycho slasher He’s Out There and followed by the South Korea/Japanese plastic surgery nightmare Ghost Mask Scar. These where followed by The Night Sitter a witchy horror comedy she absolutely loved and then the fantastic horror documentary Cult of Terror which ended up getting 5 out of 5 in here review which you can read HERE.
Having popped out for some fresh air and food I came back and after a visit to the loo went to head up the stairs to my seat when an entourage swept through and blocked my way. Wondering who would command so many people with the presence I suddenly spotted Aidan Turner better known to most as Poldark but to me as the horny vampire in Being Human. As he breezed through someone called his name and he stopped right by me turning to spot Caitlin FitzGerald his co-star in their new film and the next to screen at FrightFest The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot. She introduced him to her Mum who just happened to be standing in front of me at the foot of the stairs and he gave me a look wondering if I was also somehow related to Caitlin. Alas I am not so the gaggle of guys and girls started to head upstairs and I trailed behind seeing as we were all going to the same place leaving a bit of a distance so as not to seem like some weirdo super fan. As I rounded the corner a random bloke from the bunch stopped me and started to tell me I wasn’t allowed any further to which I flashed my pass and said “I’m just heading for my seat” to which he apologised and backed down. Looks like they thought I was a crazy stalker anyway!
After this spot of star spotting and nearly being denied my rightful spot to watch the film from I regaled my new friends with the tale seeing as we were all sitting far enough away so as Aiden couldn’t hear. Most shocking of all the film itself was amazing and the performances especially from Sam Elliott where sensational. Taking a crazy ridiculous and downright stupid idea and playing it completely seriously somehow worked and I hope the film receives the recognition it deserves when its released to the masses.
My last movie was also a bit of an oddity as well featuring a Giallo obsessed video collector stuck in the past and on the verge of making tons of money when a prize VHS is stolen from him. Although this may sound like a fun and throwaway storyline the actual movie was far deeper and emotionally effective seeing as it dealt with loneliness, alcoholism and people exchanging collecting things for real life connections.
Day: Monday 27th August 2018
Weirdo’s in Leicester Square: More bible bashers trying to save my soul.
Horror T-Shirt of the day: Work top for Spectral Sightings
Debate of the day: What was the best film of the fest?
Best Films: The Witch in the Window, The Tokoloshe, Wolfman’s Got Nards
Bank Holiday Monday for many is a day of rejoicing and rest but for me it’s always tinged with sadness seeing as it’s the last day of FrightFest. Up in town Leicester Square was again full of religious fanatics some with Bibles some with Koran’s and all with the misguided notion that I needed their help. Unless they could perform the miracle of making the fantastic festival run another 5 days I wasn’t interested in anything they had to say.
More amusingly I spotted some dressed in a full on Frankenstein outfit helped along by a friend and heading for the Prince Charles probably for a day of films although I wouldn’t want to have been sitting behind him.
In the Horror Channel I had no one in front of me and as often is the case on the last day the first three films flew by. Open 24 Hours was an enjoyable slasher thriller about a brutal serial killer known as The Rain Ripper, The Field Guide to Evil was avant-garde anthology of the glorious, the gory and the mystifying and Austrian unnerving The Dark was a refreshing take on the whole undead genre.
Over in the other screens I got to see Sci-Horror Black Site which was set in a world where a government agency had been created to capture the old gods who still roamed our planet, Tom aka Zombie 1 got to see the excellent horror doc Wolfman’s Got Nards (Read our review HERE) about the classic cult 80’s kids horror The Monster Squad while Hayley watched The Tokoloshe (Read our review HERE) a South African supernatural horror about a monsters real and internal.
Luckily the last day also contained my favourite film of the whole festival The Witch in the Window (Read our review HERE) a sensational supernatural story that managed to scare the crap out of me, something that’s hard to do these days after all the horror I have watched.
Leaving the cinema and the festival I knew that sadly another amazing year of FrightFest was done. I had watched some brilliant films made some good friends and had a great time and although I had a whole year to wait I knew that just like this year FrightFest would always deliver the best horror festival experience on the planet.