Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Calvaire [The Ordeal]

Christ allegory rendered as an extreme art-house, backwoods psycho, torture 'n' bestiality movie.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Frightfest 2013 Reflection

My third full Frightfest and this time it was like slipping on an old, comfy hoodie.
This year I managed to run a full gamut and see 26 films across the five day festival, though not all on the main screen. For the first time I had a go at venturing into the Discovery screens, this involved extreme queueing/sleep deprivation on the Saturday due to the Willow Creek effect but on the other days was just a case of rocking up at the counter. On the main screen I missed Hammer Of The Gods (by all accounts not up to much), I Spit On Your Grave 2 (by all accounts apalling shit) and the We Are What We Are remake (by all accounts one of the best films of the festival, can't win 'em all).
The festival was introduced by Bobcat Goldthwait further confusing the decision to put his film into the tiny Discovery screens, a decision righted by changing Willow Creek's second screening to a screen roughly five times the size. Other assorted guests accompanied the films as usual, some enlightening (Chucky 6, Dark Tourist), some just shuffled about looking confused (In Fear) and some bought massive entourages from around the world (Dead 2, Big Bad Wolves). They all had Q&A's as usual though this year people reined in their stumbling nonsense and the questions were usually of interest. Then there was they guy who explained that Child's Play 3 was his all time favourite movie, he's got an awful lot of cinematic discovery head of him, makes me feel slightly jealous.
There was an extended interview with Ben Wheatley, which was incredibly illuminating and showed just how much boring as fuck, hard graft the man has done to perfect his craft. There were previews of a few films, most interesting of these was Glazer's Under The Skin of which we only saw 2 mins of clips but plenty of weirdness, The Raid 2 of which we saw a girl with a pair of claw hammers and plenty of violence and the upcoming 2000AD documentary of which we saw a bunch of talking heads and plenty of awesome comic art.
The short films this year were split up and redistributed about at the start of features, presumably to get them exposure denied to them when they were lumped together on a Sunday afternoon. The best of these was an animation called Chuck Steel: Raging Balls Of Steel Justice which came off like Wallace & Gromit if they'd been intravenously fed Chuck Norris' entire back catalogue whilst having Red Bull injected into their eyes. Also worth mentioning were Shell Shocked, a neat WW2 Boys Own tale with a twist introduced by director Paddy from Emmerdale and Crazy For You which managed to turn the gouging out of one's eyeballs into a happy ending.
And the films. Standards were higher again than years gone by with nothing plumbing depths like last year's After or Night In The Woods from the year before. The flipside though was that there wasn't a great deal of epoch making genius going on either. Found footage continues to dominate and continues to be a crutch for film makers to direct without having to consider shots, framing, lighting etc. just stick a camera in an actor's hand and get them to do it. Most galling of all is there are now films that are shot like a found footage movie despite not being found footage at all (Banshee Chapter), for fuck's sake film makers - MAKE SOME FILMS. I'm not suggesting all found footage is thoughtless crap mind, there's plenty of directors still using it effectively and finding new ways to scare with it, something which is reflected in this years lists:
5 favourites;
1) Big Bad Wolves
2) Cheap Thrills
3) Willow Creek
4) V/H/S/2
5) The Last Days [Los últimos días]
5 not favourites;
1) Dementamania
2) Banshee Chapter
3) R.I.P.D.
4) No One Lives
5) The Dead 2: India
Thanks to Joe, Ted, Ali and newcomer James for prodding me from cinema to fast food joint to pub and back again. Now back to reality, ho-hum.

Big Bad Wolves [Mi mefahed mezeev hara]

(Frightfest Day 5)
Astoundingly good collision of the good, the evil and the sadistic.
What a way to end a festival.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Rewind This!

(Frightfest Day 5)
Passionate look into video tape history coated in fucking awful music all the bloody time. I'm sure it's cool as a VHS jingle but not all over every interview.

Odd Thomas

(Frightfest Day 5)
Great, stylish romp.

Banshee Chapter [3D]

(Frightfest Day 5)
A bunch of cool things (Lovecraft, sixties counter culture, people with weird faces appearing suddenly and without warning) fail to gel together. Also shout out to the worst post 3D conversion I've ever seen at the start, made people's heads look way freakier than anything else in the movie.

Dark Touch

(Frightfest Day 5)
Excellent brooding examination of abuse and ignorance marred on occasion by a touch of ropey editing and stilted acting

Willow Creek

(Frightfest Day 4)
A taut found footage story that stays earnestly true to the purest conventions of the form. The first half is light, funny and entertaining, the second half is shit you up terrifying.

The Last Days [Los últimos días]

(Frightfest Day 4)
A superb adventure through the buildings and tunnels of Barcelona where the population have been forced to live due to a rampant viral agoraphobia. Invokes both Romero and Carpenter at their best and there's a fight with a bear. Brilliant.

The Conspiracy

(Frightfest Day 4)
Starts as a well formed mock documentary on the search for a grand unified conspiracy theory but ends as a shitty version of Kill List.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Dark Tourist [The Grief Tourist]

(Frightfest Day 4)
A well crafted journey/descent into a psyche/psycho.

In Fear

(Frightfest Day 4)
Dark roads, doom drones and little else.


(Frightfest Day 4)
I'm unsure as to whether I'm pleased with the mature, realist approach to stalking on show here or disappointed that I didn't get a psycho Mormon beating somebody to death with the Good Book whilst letting loose shrill screeches of Biblical verse and chapter.

Cheap Thrills

(Frightfest Day 3)
Polanski on amphetamines. Excellent.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

R.I.P.D. [3D]

(Frightfest Day 3)
Rubbery CGI menaces a rubbery Ryan Reynolds whilst a rubbery Jeff Bridges delivers all his lines through a mouthful of rocks.

No One Lives

(Frightfest Day 3)
A bunch of criminal stereotypes get caught up between the kind of super cool serial killer you wrote about in college and his glacially sensible victim as they trade laugh out loud lines of dialogue.

Cannon Fodder [Basar Totahim]

(Frightfest Day 3)
Israel's first zombie movie. Extremely interesting as a cultural artifact, not so much as a film.

Frankenstein's Army

(Frightfest Day 3)
A series of wildly fluctuating accents go head to head with an ever increasing horde of grumpy stilt walkers wearing weird masks in this triumph of impressive set dressing over narrative coherence.

The Hypnotist [Hypnotisören]

(Frightfest Day 3)
A solid as a rock scandinavian crime yarn. Nothing special, nothing bad.

100 Bloody Acres

(Frightfest Day 2)
A surprisingly touching tale centred on mincing human bodies that provided the most stomach lurching moment of the day, though that was nothing to do with the mincing.


(Frightfest Day 2)
Continues the brilliance of the first one whilst engaging in an ongoing search to find unusual places to attach a camera. Of the films Safe Haven easily blows everything else out of the water with it's relentless insanity.

Friday, 23 August 2013


(Frightfest Day 2)
Absolutely superb paranormal double negative starring Lance Henriksen (Site B) as the bad guy.

Hatchet III

(Frightfest Day 2)
A third episode of gunk spouting prosthetic mania. A very welcome third episode.


(Frightfest Day 2)
A story of unravelling sanity that falls apart as quickly and catastrophically as its protagonist.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident [Devil's Pass]

(Frightfest Day 2)
Beleaguered found footage and swathes of clunky expositition are used to communicate the sum total of one new idea.

You're Next

(Frightfest Day 1)
Inverted slasher with an above average compendium of bloody deaths.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Curse Of Chucky

(Frightfest Day 1)
Knife waving, kids, F-bombs, spurious links to earlier sequels. Everything in place for a most gratifying entry in the Child's Play series.

The Dead 2: India

(Frightfest Day 1)
Goes to great lengths to present a series of scenarios in which the inexorable creep of slow zombies becomes a genuine menace. For example dangling from a tree, or deperately trying to start an obstinate vehicle, or being in India.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


For a film centred on a man who repeatedly needs surgery RIGHT NOW or he will die, it was strangely lacking in urgency.
The hi-tech slums look incredible though, get this man to direct some William Gibson.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Weird cartoon that wallows about in the depths of the uncanny valley. Worth watching for Crispin Glover's hissing, squealing Grendel.

Monday, 19 August 2013

About Time

A gentle parable on how best to live life that both steers clear of mawkish and clearly demonstrates that Curtis should have fucked Hugh Grant off a lot earlier in his career.

Tamara Drewe

Inoffensive British whimsy, about how British folk skirt round issues and fail to get to the point, that skirts round any issues and fails to get to the point.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Kick-Ass 2

Forced and unnecessary.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Less of a film, more a flawless continuation of the Partridge mythos.
Fucking brilliant.

Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters [3D]

A far more successful blend of Greek myth and modern day romping that produced plenty of laughs, quite a few 'woah!'s and one 'AWESOME!'.
Those were all from Charlotte mind, I was busy being pleasantly surprised that everything wasn't total shit and smiling at the fact that the bad guy appeared to be 'Dad issues'. Well played Hollywood, well played.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Only God Forgives

A fantastic cipher composed of deliberate glances and considered movement that finds itself at the midpoint between Lynch and Tarkovsky.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Seed Of Chucky

Goes for totally meta this time as Chucky's reality merges with our own and he ends up in Hollywood. Has a lot of unsubtle digs at film and celebrity whilst also making an admirable effort to be truly 'crazed' and 'out there' with its humour.
It's a brave attempt not to do the same old shit, but sometimes all you want to see is a doll casually dropping an F-bomb as he stalks some kid and waves a big knife around.

Bride Of Chucky

Jennifer Tilly's serial killer's moll re-invigorates the franchise whilst overt weed references and the constant implication that Chucky is an anachronism ensures you know it's really fucking modern.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Child's Play 3

A year on, Chucky is rebuilt and up to his old tricks whilst Andy, the boy he failed to possess twice, is now eight years older and living in a military school next door to a fairground.
Also features Scorpio from Dirty Harry as a sadistic military hairdresser.
All in all, a pretty stupid film.

Child's Play 2

The last 20 mins of plot from the first film is stretched out across a new set of victims leading up to a showdown in a toy factory. Brad Dourif does 'pissed off plastic' even better this time round.

Child's Play

A foul mouthed, voodoo obsessed, morally bereft serial killer transfers his vengeance into a child's doll.
The doll then goes on to mimic Giallo slayings, blow buildings up, shatter the trust of a child and quip like crazy.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Hatchet II

Maintains the meticulous slasher homage by replicating a typical slasher sequel whereby too long is spent weaving a convoluted story from the random untied threads of the first film before a randomly gathered collection of characters are dispatched in an even more crazed display of gooey prosthetics.