The festival is in full force now and Saturday promised some big surprises as well as a couple of premieres! So how did it go, from what we saw?
Stunts, dubbing, directors, American imports, Italian stars, replacement stars, Mafia involvement… All this and more is covered in this excellent documentary about the 70s Italian crime movies.
Franco Nero, Henry Silva, John Saxon and many, many, more names pop up to talk about the films and the film is animated throughout. Not just with talking heads and footage, but with some decent animation to keep your eyes tuned in.
Whilst this isn’t horror, it is certainly of the mondo movie nature. It’s a bit odd perhaps that this documentary can be seen on the big screen at FrightFest (not that we are complaining mind) as opposed to the horror effect guru Greg Nicotero documentary which has been pushed to the Discovery screen on the same day. Still, the fact that we have more than one documentary at the festival is good news and EuroCrime is a decent and well developed film. A great start to the day!
Outpost II: Black Sun
This one is probably the first “send this one DTV” title we have had on the big screen. Sure it’s more ambitious than the original film, but they have lost the name talent from Ray Stevenson and instead have had to go down the alphabet to find people more affordable. A thumbs up for their attempt to pay tribute to Resident Evil, Wolfenstein, and even Raiders of the Lost Ark though. It also unashamedly sets itself up for a third part (and we hear a fourth is mooted already). So if you are in on this one, be prepared to be in for the long haul.
This low budget British horror sequel finds a young woman out with a vendetta against the SS. But, little does she know that there are quite a few low lit, sore-throaty zombie Nazi’s waiting for her out there, as well as a small battalion of inept troops.
The film has a 15 certificate evidenced by the cut away violence and lack of gore. Thrills are also in short supply, but there are plenty of foul mouthed caricatures to marvel at as the team drop one by one on their mission.
This outing turns a bit more science fiction in its last third, and things get very silly when it reaches the Raiders of the Lost Ark homage in its finale. True, the intent is to build a franchise that may well bloom over the incoming sequels, but it may depend heavily on where the plot stems from here and whether they dither around too long with monsters for the sake of a bit of cheap censored gore.
This one should give people something to giggle at but isn’t good, or even bad, enough to be a strong talking point.
A real delight! This Amsterdam zom-com has just about everything you want or need and perhaps more in this tale of zombie outbreak.
Put together a rag tag team of softies, bullies, coppers and thugs and you get a hilarious ensemble of idiots and do-righters as they plough their way through town to help save a co-worker from peril!
The effects may look a little crass in places, but it all adds to the warped style of the film. The gore effects are plentiful and only seem to get all the more inventive as the film charges towards it crazy finale. Censorship isn’t something the film-makers are too worried about as they throw in buckets of green goop and red claret at every direction the camera can capture. Nothing short of a real hoot. The only shame is that only the select few could catch it on the Discovery screen.
The Manetti brothers attempt to revisit the glory days of Giallo film making with this cheap, video shot film. The look of the film is what ultimately kills the atmosphere despite a few interesting twists and turns along the way.
We are introduced to three young men who decide to take a joyride in the acquired car of a rather well off client. Upon discovering the keys to the man’s house they decide it would be good to spend the weekend at the client’s house; raiding the fridge, arranging a party and playing Guitar Hero. But before much of their fun can get put into motion the client returns home and things start to turn ugly. Not to mention their discovery of the secret in the basement!
The film spends almost half its running time getting to anything even remotely tense and is wasted on characterisations that don’t beg for much in the way of sympathy.
Despite its change of gear in the second half, the thrills are in short supply and whilst there are moments of wince inducing torture and blood letting the film fails to grip. Anyone familiar with their genre films will also see anything even remotely twisty towards the end coming long before it has happened. An odd film for sure, but hardly a highlight of the festival.
The Arrival of Wang
Anyone disappointed with Paura can take solace in the fact that the Manetti brother’s other film The Arrival of Wang was also screening at the festival (carried over from FrightFest Glasgow) and it is a vast improvement. Not only that, but also a very different beast altogether!
We were gutted we missed this one as it only had one showing on the Discovery screen. A damn shame, in our opinion, that it wasn’t on the big screen. Greg Nicotero was on site as well though as, in the main screen, he was the recipient of the Variety Award for his almost 30 years of work as an effects artist in the industry.
A delightful man, even he admitted he was tied up with other affairs to actually get to the screening of the documentary on him. But an award he received and it was presented to him by Brit favourite Simon Pegg after a short, but insightful, interview from Total Film’s Damon Wise.
An overworked couple head to the countryside for a break from the busy life and an attempt to rekindle their relationship.
Of course, the moment they get there it’s all deserted, locked doors, flickering lights, random noises, black cat moments (well dogs anyway) and a whole bunch of fake scares to alert our leads. In fact, it is close to the halfway point before we see our first zombie which sets itself upon the missus.
Now hubby has to attend to his ailing wife and it’s from this point that the film tries to veer off into a different sort of narrative as he seems to want to do anything to keep his connection with his wife, no matter whom comes along to help.
The first main problem with Before Dawn is just how mismatched the couple are in the first place. The two leads lack chemistry, which may well be part of the point of the narrative, but the film tries to play everything seriously and, as a result, doesn’t have a clever enough script, nor the technical capacity to be anything more just another zombie flick looking for a quick buck. But then we know how many zombie movie fans out there like to lap up any and every rendition of the genre as possible.
Alan Jones wasn’t lying when he said “Giallo is back” when he introduced this world premiere. Italian horror hasn’t been this unintentionally funny since Dario Argento’s Giallo! But to be fair you know most of it had to have been deliberately shonky! Especially in the dialogue.
Tulpa actually took a good half hour or so before the crowd started to let loose with the laughter. The opening sections of the film do try, and succeed, to look like the old 70’ Giallo (especially when compared to Argento’s early work). So you have to hand it to Frederico Zampaglione for putting a bit of effort into the look for the film. But, when events spiral out of control so do the supporting performances. One actress in particular took probably the lion’s share of laughs for the entire day with some brilliantly over the top reactions!
Whether they meant it or not, Tulpa was good looking comedy genius and one best watched with a crowd much like this one.
Anyone who saw last year’s The Divide and has a taste for the apocalyptic horror scene may like this take on what happens after the bombs go off.
This one is not set in the city though, but out in the sticks as a group of survivors cram into a farmhouse cellar and have to fend off infection and a horde of crazies outside, as well as dealing with the inevitable after effects of radiation poisoning.
It isn’t pretty, it’s very bleak but it’s never dull.
This remake of the William Lustig’s slasher is the highlight of the day. Elijah Wood plays Frank, one seriously screwed up young man with mummy issues who stalks and kills beautiful women so that he can scalp them and add them to his mannequin collection.
Nice guy, huh? He meets an aspiring photographer who he takes a shine to and sparks up a relationship with. But will all be alright in the end? Or is she likely to find out something she probably would prefer not knowing.
The majority of Manic is shot from the perspective of Frank and it’s amazing how long the film maker manages to sustain this look. It does cheat every now and again (perhaps to remind us that Wood isn’t just doing voice over work and is actually on set), but always reverts back to Frank.
We were lucky enough to get the uncut version and the blood certainly shows! A nice brutal end to festivities on the main screen.
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings
There was a screening of this part prequel to the long running mutant hill-billy slasher series on the Discovery screen. This time we get to find out what loony bin the terrible trio were locked up in before they made their escape.
In fact, the opening section of this is where most of the money shots are as the lunatics take over the asylum and tear the onsite staff apart.
After that it zips forward to the present and we get the usual line up of pretty young people out on a break together. They happen upon the facility and well, you know! One by one they get slashed, scarred, flesh torn off and eventually eaten! Yum!
It’s all by numbers in that respect, so likely to put a grin on fans faces, but won’t really win over any new ones.
After all that carnage it was back to the Phoenix for a bit of partying. getting home to bed at around 4 am when you have an early rise is perhaps not the best idea, but it’s festival time and you can balance it by getting a bit of kip the following night instead – or just wait until the festival is over like we do! But there is still two more days to go!