Who says 13 is unlucky? The 13th annual Film4 FrightFest horror film festival was held on August 23-27th in London’s West End. Launched in 2000 by legendary film journalist and horror expert Alan Jones, along with Paul McEvoy and Ian Rattray (and later joined by their PR organizer Greg Day in 2006), the event was originally conceived to provide British horror fans with an opportunity to meet and enjoy a weekend of screenings, previews and premieres of new and upcoming films from the world of horror and fantasy. Add special appearances by cast and crew, Q & A and interview sessions with genre luminaries, and FrightFest has grown from humble beginnings to a five day marathon of madness rivaling the prestigious annual horror meet in Sitges, Spain.
This year, with films showing on three screens, there was something for everyone. The Main Screen featured world premieres of the new British comedy horror Cockneys Vs Zombies, European and UK premieres of the Chilean shocker Hidden in the Woods, and the new remake of the classic nasty Maniac, starring Elijah Wood. The Discovery Screen showed new independent and underground films, and the Rediscovery Screen brought back classics, including a whole day allotted to remastered editions of Hammer films such as The Mummy’s Shroud, Rasputin, The Mad Monk, The Devil Rides Out , and also Universal’s Bride of Frankenstein.
The highlight of the weekend for many was the Icon interview, sponsored by Total Film Magazine, with the legendary master of Italian shockers, Dario Argento. On stage, he explained a project he has been working on with Italian television who are going to screen his 100 personal favorite horror films, two a week over the next year. Asked if any of his own films had made the cut, he admitted that he snuck Susperia, Deep Red, Opera and Bird with the Crystal Plumage in. Argento also revealed some influences, including art, sculpture and a wide variety of music. He even cited his love of the French people, whose critics that wrote for the groundbreaking magazine Cahiers du Cinema were amongst the first to discover and promote his work.
Alan Jones probably best summed up the essence of the festival, saying, ” ….. we try our best to show you the movies you want to see, invite the people you want to meet, and ask the questions you all want to hear”—a feat the organizers undoubtedly accomplished this year and will hopefully continue in years to come.
By Cleaver Patterson
***Check out our reviews page to read reviews of all the films!