SFX’s horror expert Penny Dreadful looks back at the highlights and lowlights of this year’s Film4 FrightFest that took place in London last weekend…
Sean Pertwee wedged in a pipe, a zombie/zimmer frame race, a killer clown riding a tiny bike, Dario Argento, Simon Pegg, Paddy from Emmerdale, A Chinese alien, moths, melons, monsters, and a mob of drooling gore fans – it can only be horror-Mecca FrightFest.
2012 could be the year of the women – in front and behind the camera. Jennifer Lynch’s intelligent serial killer and captive two-hander Chained and Jen and Sylvia Soska’s surprising, brave and lyrical body modification metaphor America Mary proved to be highlights.
Anthology gem V/H/S featured stories from a bank of hot talent including Ti West and Adam Wingard and included a wonderful, beautiful, vengeful and uncanny cat lady, as well as some awesome scares. Less joyful, though, were opening film The Seasoning House, and Chilean oddity Hidden In The Woods which included uncomfortable rapes setting off controversial conversations about whether levels of on-screen misogyny had rocketed this year.
Saturday was owned by the Italians with smart doc Eurocrime delving into the Italian cop and gangster movies of the ’70s kicking things off. Next was the Manetti brother’s frankly terrible Paura 3D – another one with lots of graphic nudity; some things you just don’t need to see in 3D. *Shudder*. Shame, since the Manetti’s The Arrival Of Wang, where a translator is drafted in to talk to a captured alien who only speaks Chinese, which showed in the discovering screen, was provocative, well made and interesting (if a little under developed).
The highly-anticipated giallo Tulpa took the 9pm slot and became the strangest screening of the fest – some dodgy dubbing and dubious acting, combined with the contagiousness of crowds and the British sense of humour meant the audience began roaring with laughter at around an hour in and never let up. The cast and crew was there. Very awkward. Not our finest hour.
But it was funny.
Thankfully scalpy remake Maniac rounded off the night to grateful applause.
Most notorious screening of the Sunday: the shorts programme, surprisingly. Part way through an impressive selection of horror minis an audience member had a seizure. Coincidentally it was during the most graphic and upsetting of the pieces, Tokophobia. Let’s hope they’re not going to be insensitive enough to put that in the marketing blurb.
Luckily it didn’t distract from Jaume Balagero’s Sleep Tight, a black-as-night torture comedy about a depressed concierge driven to madness and meanness by a cheerful guest. From this to Sinister, a slick Hollywood production which also happened to be smart, scary and very effective. One to watch.
Other films of note – Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, running at over two and a half hours and made up of the original Nightbreed with original footage from a VHS Clive Barker found down the back of his sofa (or something) cut in. Cockney Vs Zombies (infinitely funnier than Strippers Vs Werewolves) proved, a pleasingly good natured zom-romp (you muppet!), while dreamy, circular, sound-scape Berberian Sound Studio was intoxicating and fascinating even if it wasn’t so concerned with plot. Another great year.
Cockneys Vs Zombies
BEST OF THE FEST:
- American Mary
- Sleep Tight
- Cockneys Vs Zombies
Tags: American Mary, Berberian Sound Studio, Chained, Cockneys Vs Zombies, Eurocrime, Frightfest, Hidden In The Woods, Maniac, Nightbreed, Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, Paura 3D, Sinister, Sleep Tight, The Arrival Of Wang, The Seasoning House, Tokophobia, Tulpla, V/H/S