FrightFest : A Newbies Perspective

I’ve been aware of FrightFest for about five years now but despite my burning desire to go, something else had always managed to get in the way. I couldn’t afford it, or I had too much work on, or no-one to go with. Well, I decided to put the excuses to one side and book tickets for Matt and I for the Friday this year, and I’m so glad I did.

We arrived in Leicester Square on Thursday and picked our tickets up straight away before meeting up with Boston and going for pre-FF drinks at the Captains Cabin; something I’m assured has become a bit of a tradition amongst the regulars. We’d been sat down for no more than a minute before someone at the next table had sniffed out fellow horror nerds and started talking to us. That’s how friendly everyone is.

We then checked into our hotel, which looked suspiciously like the one from Basket Case, only with fewer prostitutes and absolutely no mutant siamese twins in baskets, and got a good nights sleep before a full day of movies on Friday.

Arriving at the Empire Cinema promptly on Friday morning proudly wearing our Gorepress t-shirts, we queued for a few minutes and then went straight into Screen 1 for, perhaps my most hotly anticipated movie of the fest, the Cabal cut of Nightbreed. I think I can confidently speak for both myself and Matt when I say that Nightbreed is one of our favourite movies of all time and we weren’t disappointed. After rumours that the cut left a little to be desired, we were pleased to see that, although the footage was of inevitably poor quality, it certainly added to the over-arcing storyline and was much closer to being the film Clive Barker had always intended it to be. Afterwards there was a Q & A with some of the original cast members as well as the chaps responsible for bringing the cut to life.

After a short break we came straight back for the Total Film Icon interview with Dario Argento. I cannot fully express how excited I was to be breathing the same air as such a tremendously talented director (yes, he’s made some turkeys recently but no-one can deny the genius of his pre-1985 efforts). I’ve become quite the giallo fan in recent years and although the interview got off to a slightly rocky start and was marred a little by the language barrier, Argento came across as a rather humble man with a wicked sense of humour. A true highlight of the day.

Next up was a Chilean film called Hidden In The Woods that I knew nothing about and went into completely blindly. It polarised everyone in the audience straight away, with the majority outright hating it. In terms of nonsensical exploitation I found it reasonably enjoyable, despite the atrocious subtitles which appeared to get progressively worse throughout and became a bit distracting at times. The director Patricio Valladera was available for questions afterwards, along with his translator and the whole thing was surprisingly entertaining. We learnt that he’d essentially conned the Chilean government out of money to make the movie by telling them it was a ‘social drama’. Ballsy, if nothing else. He did enrage the feminist within me when the only words he could find to describe one of his leading ladies were “other one, big tits” and again, the language barrier proved a little problematic.

After another break came [REC] 3 which was a vastly different offering to the previous two. Played completely for laughs, it had a very different feel but I thoroughly enjoyed it and despite not being quite the same sort of achievement was definitely very enjoyable. The audience were cheering and whooping in all the appropriate places too, and it’s hard not to get caught up in that sort of enthusiasm. It was lovely to be surrounded by such likeminded individuals.

After the movie, Paco Plaza and his wife/leading lady, the gorgeous Leticia Dolera took to the stage to answer some questions, at which point we bailed, in desperate need of a caffeine injection and some food!

Last up was Irish horror comedy Stitches, introduced by its director Conor McMahon and star Ross Noble. This was perhaps the most entertaining part of the day. I’d never been a big fan of Ross Noble but his sarcastic schtick and hilarious Bane impersonation won me over and McMahon anchored the intro by being both shy and modest. At this point of the day, I think I was so tired that I may have been in the wrong mood to enjoy Stitches fully but it was still a funny, inventively gory and sick little gem and I’m looking forward to catching it again on its proper release.

I started off the day feeling incredibly nervous but I soon realised that there was absolutely no need to be. On the whole, the audience was a great crowd and despite one or two unavoidable hiccups and a couple of the movies running a little late, FrightFest seems like an impeccably organised affair. If, like me, you’ve ever toyed with the idea and found an excuse, just go for it. I was ridiculously sad to have to leave and found myself feeling insanely jealous of everyone who got to stay and enjoy 3 more whole days of films, guests and general awesomeness! Next year cannot come soon enough. Viva la FrightFest!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.