FrightFest 2011 – Day 2 Review

Friday was the first full on day of screenings with films showing in the main screen, as well as smaller items screening on the Discovery Screen. The main started with Rogue River, which I skipped. The Discovery Screen had The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry which is probably the main documentary item on the schedule. It’s a short but in-depth look at the life and career of one of Spain’s most beloved horror icons, Paul Naschy.

The rather more hardcore A Horrible Way To Die followed on the Disco Screen while The Holding saw a bigger crowd arrive on the main screen. A Horrible Way To Die is often more brutal than most films, and has a rather weird sense about it in the way it was shot giving it a very surreal feel. The Holding is a British thriller based on a farm run by a woman and her daughters. Just about every man in the film gets the brutal end of the stick by the time the film finishes. That very point was brought up by a guy in the crowd to the female director which she laughed off, but in a very unapologetic way. But then again most of the men in this picture are not very nice, and are not very nice to the ladies on screen. It would have held up more if the leading lady actually fit the part and the main villain of the piece didn’t go all 2-D on us in the final act.

Midnight Son is a vampire tale I do recommend for those of you out there who prefer something a little more mature for their vampire treats. And thankfully I saw that pre-festival as it clashed with the Larry Fessenden interview. No one really seemed to be talking about Midnight Son over the whole weekend, so I can only assume that very few people went to see it. That’s a shame as it’s worthy of any vampire lovers collection. Back to Larry though, not only did he talk about his directorial features and how it is to work as an independent film maker, but he’s also known as a producer for lower budget thrills. The second half of this session saw directors Ty West, Lucky McKee, Adam Green and Joe Lynch all join Larry on stage for extended discussion (all of which have material screening this year).

Urban Explorers followed while the wonderfully darkly comic (and often profound) Rabies showed on the Disco Screen. Rabies is probably the film the organisers may have wished they had placed on the main screen. It went down so well at the festival that they booked a third screening on the final day due to demand! The film speaks for itself, I saw this one pre-festival and loved it. Whenever asked I mentioned that this was one worth seeing to the people I met, although I think the brochure item was slightly incorrect as it had it pegged as a “slasher.” Which it ain’t. But it is the first Hebrew horror comedy ever and boy is it funny, yet also often quite profound.

Andy Nyman starred in The Glass Man later in the day. You can check the review for the film on the site. Nyman also kept his presence known throughout the festival along with well attired director/actor Cristian Solimeno.

Blood Runs Cold and Kidnapped followed back to back on the Disco Screen. Kidnapped seemed to have got a good word of mouth, but it is worth mentioning that while the low budget Blood Runs Cold wasn’t getting much word, it’s a stalk and slash chiller that is worth a peek when it comes out mainly due to its prolonged chase in the second half of the film.

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil already had a huge amount of advance notice and seemed set to be the comedy highlight of the day, if not the entire weekend, and had the crowd howling with laughter. It’s a very simple premise that begs belief as to why it hasn’t been done before (and if it has, why hasn’t it been done this well). Basically Tucker and Dale are a couple of well to do, red-neck hicks who happen to get in the way of a group of camping teenagers. Merely smiling at these kids gets them spooked and thinking that Tucker and Dale are up to no good. From then on in it’s all just a case of misunderstanding. Well, a misunderstanding with a body count. It isn’t a riot a minute, but it does very well with the simple premise.

Stormhouse only had the one screening on the Discovery Screen and didn’t get much response, and well, frankly it didn’t really deserve it. I skipped out on Vile in order to join the masses for drinks. I had to check out the Phoenix where most of the crowd head to after they are finished at The Imperial (the pub round the corner from the Empire). I was lucky enough to get into an elongated conversation with both Joe Lynch, who sold me on the idea of attending tomorrow night’s Chillerama session, as I was in two minds as it was on so late.

Steven Hurst

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