Every year since 2000, London during the August bank holiday has been home to a festival of blood and gore as some of the best horror movies of the past and present have been shown at Frightfest.
By some quirk of fate, I was introduced to this somewhere near the start of their amazing adventure, and have been watching films with them on and off since 2001 when a certain ginger ninja I once worked with pointed me towards their immense back-to-back showing of Brotherhood of the Wolf and Battle Royale. There were tickets available which covered the entire festival, but at the time I was remarkably brassic and could only afford to get to a handful of showings. Over the years a number of curious and unpredictable events had prevented me from picking up passes for the entire weekend. Finally in 2012 the stars, planets and galaxies aligned allowing myself and my other half to find ourselves in the sleepy queue on a cold morning. After some queueing and a modicum of panic when we thought we might not get tickets, we left, clutching the printed spoils of victory. Success, the gnarled skeletal gates to the kingdom were ours for a time, we secured some seats for the entire weekend.
As the days and weeks ticked away, the anticipation grew, until, as we walked through the doors on the first night of the 2012 festival, I vowed to write a haiku for each of the films we saw. Six months have passed since that day, and although I’d like to say it was the visceral shock of the images which stayed my hand from writing these passages, it would be disingenuous at best. Time is too short and the number of tasks to complete is too high, so I’m going to have to settle for this less than timely review of some thoroughly enjoyable encounters.
There were some incredible experiences over the weekend:
- The pumping soundtrack and imagery of Maniac, which shared top film of the festival for me.
- Sleep Tight, a claustrophobic movie, with a wincingly evil antagonist that shared top spot with Maniac for the pick of the festival.
- Tulpa, which was unfortunately so absurd and cringeworthy that the cast didn’t make it back on the stage for the question and answer session after the titles rolled.
- The Quiz From Hell. I like to think that Andy Nyman can answer all the questions without reference to the legend, because I know most people wouldn’t. So hard, but the prizes are always so damn cool. I think it might have been won by someone calling themselves Sex Panther this year, which was funny in and of itself…
- The Empire on Leicester Square is truly immense. Its pretty incredible to have had the festival there for the last few years, and I’m glad that I got to watch films like Maniac, Sleep Tight and Berberian Sound Studio on such an amazing screen with pretty much the best sound in London.
Thanks to my other half for delivering some of the haiku’s for the following reviews. Below are the films we managed to make it down to:
The films will link to reviews as they are completed by my tardy fingers.