FrightFest Week: I Know What They Did Last Summer

Friday this week will see the release of the full screening schedule for the FILM4 Frightfest 2011. We’re going to have a post up each day this week to look back at the festival and even talk to the people who run it before releasing the full list of films coming your way in late August.

Let’s have a peek at what went down last year at the 2010 festival!

The festival opened with Adam Green’s Hatchet II which starred horror veterans Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Danielle Harris (all three of which were there to promote the film along with the director). Brit flicks included F, Dead Cert, 13 Hrs, Isle of Dogs and a certain small budgeted film called Monsters. Aussie cult flick The Loved Ones got a good reception, but smaller flicks Red Hill and Wound also got a bit of recognition as well.

Retrospective guest of honour was Tobe Hooper who screened his early film Eggshells as well as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Controversy was sparked when director Greg Araki pulled his new film Kaboom from the festival; and then the festival management dropped A Serbian Film from the schedule as well after the BBFC made over four minutes of cuts. Ryan Reynolds, living in a box thriller Buried replaced the previous film while the remake of I Spit On Your Grave was screened with cuts.

The debate continued on the last day with the documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Video Tape which had a large discussion panel afterwards. The festival then closed with hit film The Last Exorcism.

We spotted many a familiar face from horror journalists Alan Jones (one of the organisers) and Kim Newman, to film directors Neil Marshall (Dog SoldiersThe Descent), Christopher Smith (CreepTriangle), presenter Emily Booth (Evil AliensDog House) and Jake West (director of the Video Nasties documentary, Doghouse).

Let’s now see what some of the reactions were from some of the talent attending. These interviews were conducted on the last day of the 2010 festival.


So what was your pri­mary reason for being at FrightFest?

This year is in support of my new documen­tary film Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censor­ship and Videotape which is about the video nasties era and the birth of the video recordings act and how that impacted on civil liberties from the film viewer’s perspective.

What was your reaction to the audience’s reaction to that documentary?

Well because I’ve been working on this documentary for such a long time I’ve kind of lost sight of how it would play. My hope is that it would work ‘cause I believe that we had people telling stories and being very honest about how they felt and I think it had an emotional charge which often you don’t get. So I was delighted when it went down that well, because that was awesome and I really think that the audience felt it.

Now have you been here for the whole weekend?

Yes I’ve been here for the whole weekend and I’ve been to every single FrightFest but never in the morning before! This is my first morning!

For this year what films in particular do you like the most?

Gosh. That’s always a really tough question because the films are so different I think. A couple of my favourite films are Monsters and The Loved Ones. And you couldn’t get two films more different than each other. But I think that’s the great thing about Frightfest. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Lastly, are there any films that you’ve seen that you hope do really well?

I hope that all of them do very well, particularly maybe the film we are just about to see: Red, White and Blue [by] Simon Rumley. He’s a low budget British filmmaker. He could do with a hit. So I hope the audience dig it and he gets a good release on it.



 So, Emily Booth!


What have you been doing at FrightFest this year?

I’m here on behalf of the Horror Channel. It’s my job to do all the presenting, interviewing and whatever else they need me to do.

Have you got any highlights from the interviews you have been doing?

It was really nice for me to chat to the Ford brothers who directed The Dead because I met them in 1997 when we shot Pervirella. Howard and John Ford were the cameraman and DoP on Pervirella, so we go way back.

Hang on? And you met Edgar Wright on that shoot too you told us last issue!

Yeah, he came for a day to volunteer on Pervirella.

Seems like everybody has worked on it!

Yeah, it was a long time ago. Bit of a melting pot of talent from back in the day.

Now you’ve seen a few of the films, what have you really enjoyed?

Well, the home grown stuff definitely; Monsters. Really beautiful, beautiful, beautiful film! Apparently it cost like £35,000, which I do find hard to believe. It looks like it cost £50 million. And it was kind of emotional as well, so that was definitely a highlight for me. F is well worth checking out. F for fail. And of course the opener Hatchet II as this year there haven’t been any big trashy, fun rollercoaster-esque kind of horror movies. Many have been very serious in tone, beautiful films, but kind of serious. So Hatchet II was more a lot of laughter, bad taste, tits, sex, violence all that stuff.

In between films they’ve been showing a lot of surprise footage. Has there been anything going on in between the scenes that you have been enjoying?

Yeah, Adam Green and Joe Lynch who have become FrightFest regulars. The Fright­Fest Darlings! And they always do a thing called The Road To FrightFest. Which are these mini-films that they shove into the programme wherever they can. And that was fun to watch as they did a pervy salute…

Yes, they gave a nod to you.

Yes, nod is a good word. They nodded something towards me. In a sort of pervy reference to me. It’s a running joke and I was very proud of that. And Adam’s Green’s Diary of Anne Frankenstein which is a 20 minute section of a big anthology horror film has yet to come out. That was a hot, hot preview. So one of the best things about FrightFest is there are a lot of things you will see here that you won’t see for months and months and months.


So we’re on the last day of FrightFest – how do you feel it’s come together as a whole?

ALAN: Obviously we are delighted. We’ve had more people through the doors than ever before.  It is amazingly exhausting for us all. We are actually looking like the dead. Obviously we are delighted, but we’re shattered by it too. It’s just like nonstop, Greg, isn’t it?

GREG: Well this year we’ve had many surpris­ing things to take care of as well. Like hav­ing to drop A Serbian Film, the sort of extra elements we have to put in. The video panel discussion, the quiz. So all of these obviously need a lot more management and a lot more organisation. But it’s been fun as well. I’ve no­ticed not just punters coming through the door, but so much more talent. You know every film has two or three actors coming attached to it. So that’s great to know that they want to be part of the spirit of FrightFest as well.

ALAN: I mean people are now realising what FrightFest can actually do for them. And that’s been a very very tough one to put across to the film studios. But I mean the ones who are on board will reap the benefits frankly. I mean Optimum, after the reception to The Loved Ones must be absolutely delighted by that. And I think here you get a really true feeling of what people really believe. I mean I don’t bullshit people on what I think of movies and I don’t think this audience does either. When they come out they go ‘great’, ‘rubbish’, ‘liked it’ so it’s invaluable market research for people who are actually working on these mov­ies. We’ve now just got to crack the really major studios to get them on board and then we’ll be absolutely fine.

It’s been a very rocky road this year, because you’ve had two films in total that were pulled from the programme. There was Greg Araki’s film Kaboom and then also A Serbian Film as well. How stressful is it to organise things like that and find replacement features?

ALAN: Well [sighs] I don’t know what to say to that ’cause it was almost like it was meant to happen really. I mean we were slightly naive with the A Serbian Film issue ’cause we really thought we were a film festival with an 18 rating that it wouldn’t mat­ter. But of course once we realised that we would have to show a BBFC print of the film that’s when it became a bit sticky. Be­cause we found out so late on the Wednesday, and because we realised we couldn’t turn it around quickly. Not that we wanted to. We’re not into showing heavily censored versions of films that we support. And then at the same time Icon said they’d love to do a surprise showing of Buried, and how opportune was that. The two married together – so that was perfect. So in the end everything worked out in everybody’s favour. I mean we came out of it looking good. A Serbian Film maker Srdjan Spaso­jevic was really appreciative. He was a bit annoyed at first obviously, because he was here. And it keyed into our Video Nasties debate didn’t it because it was like “well here we go again!”.

GREG: Yeah, I think this year we have pulsed the energy of it. It’s been different because of the topicality of that. It‘s given people more talking points. I thought it was interesting how David Hyman had to deal with it. He’s from the BBFC and that was a new experience for him. He said to me after “I’m relieved that’s over but I’m glad I did it.” He’s been part of FrightFest for ages.

ALAN: He’s been like our whipping boy for years. We always slag him off. He’s now so used to it.

GREG: The festival has always created debate. But it’s always been in the foyer about the films. This year Alan had to do that very well spoken announcement about A Serbian Film, and you mention the Greg Araki situation, another unfortunate one where we had to deal with it. But again on the internet it created enormous interest, as a talking point, and of course the debate is should film makers have their own. Should they and can they make the decisions about their films? That opened up a can of worms where I’m sure that situation is gonna come up again at some point.

ALAN: It has made this particular event quite stressful. The joke for the four of us is the fact that two weeks ago we literally sat here for a meeting and said “D’yknow? This is all going really smoothly. It’s quite unusual.” And of course all hell broke loose from that moment on. We should know better, shouldn’t we than to say that.

So what’s your favourite film that you have go on this year, and also what one do you hope does really well?

ALAN: My favourite film will be Monsters. I love it, love it, love it. I think Gareth Edwards is the future. Hollywood is going to have to take note of what he does. Because anyone that wants to make movies will look at him as the template I think. I think the movie that I want to do really really well is Buried. I hope people really appreciate what that is about. The Hitch­cockian side of it. Yes, it is Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes. But my God, how brilliantly done is that? Without any compromise on the story. And looking back already I can see that it was the only film we could have replaced A Serbian Film with. It is politically cutting edge. It was actually powerful in a way that people were not expecting. And boy was it provocative at the end.

GREG: My personal favourite was The Loved Ones. Because there is one scene in The Loved Ones that will stay with me for a long time. The film I’d like to see do the best, and I know Alan is going to laugh at me cause they are my client, is The Dead. Partly because those guys really impressed me in what they have managed to achieve. It has a lot of flaws the film. But I think them as the Ford brothers in what they do, they’ve got the right attitude.

We’ll be catching up with Alan and Greg in respect to this year’s festival this week.  So stay tuned.

Steven Hurst

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