This year’s lineup features something for gore-hounds, giallo geeks and fans of the classics with titles ranging from the rarely seen complete ‘Cabel Cut’ of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed to Dead Sushi – a film about killer sushi – to a Toby Jones-starring celebration of Italian horror cinema in Berberian Sound Studio, a film that has already received a 5 star review on this very site.
This year also sees the introduction of a new, third ‘Re-Discovery’ screen showing Hammer restorations and two favourites from February’s Frightfest Glasgow and with more films than ever before, Frightfest the 13th is already causing visitor’s headaches in terms of scheduling their blood-soaked five days.
While regular features The Horror Channel’s Short film Showcase, Andy Nyman’s Quiz from Hell and the Total Film Icon interview (This year with Italian maestro Dario Argento) will inevitably prove to be festival highlights, here I present my five predictions for the best films of Frightfest the 13th.
From the director of P2 and the producing duo behind Switchblade Romance, this remake of nasty 1980 film looks set to be a late night favourite. Starring Elijah Wood as LA nut job Frank, Maniac gets its art house label as a result of a risky stylistic choice that sees that entire film play out from his POV, with glimpses of Brutal Baggins arriving in photographs and reflections. An inspired decision or a drearily pretentious gimmick? Only time will tell but the omens look good enough for Wood to finally shake off the hairy feet of Frodo and be remembered for a slightly more gruesome outing. That is until The Hobbit arrives in December.
As one of my favourite comedians, any film starring Ross Noble makes into my list of most anticipated. The fact he plays a killer clown seals the deal. Stitches follows Noble as a sleazy clown who dies in a prank at a kids birthday a party only to return to the group years later thanks to the actions of a black magic clown cult. Here’s hoping he turns up and delivers what could well be the funniest Q & A in the history of the festival.
3. Sleep Tight
While Paca Plaza may be receiving a lot of attention with Rec 3 in the line-up, it is the film by his Rec co-creator Jaume Balagueró I’m most looking forward to. Following Cesar, a lonely janitor who sports one of the more unfortunate hairstyles of the festival, and his obsession with a new tenant in his building, Sleep Tight arrives with positive buzz from Fantastic Fest and The Spanish Film Festival in Australia and could take a leaf from Cesar’s book by quietly creep up on Frightfesters as a festival highlight.
Each year, Alan, Paul and Ian seem to deliver a film that gets everyone talking. 2008 had Martyrs. 2009 had The Human Centipede. 2010 had A Serbian Film snatched away from them at the last minute by Westminster Council and last year had the brilliant The Woman. So as no stranger to controversial titles, this years talking-point could well be the new film by Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David), Chained. The film has already kicked up a stink in the US by achieving the rare feat of achieving an NC-17 certificate due to violence alone. She has since gone to the cutting room for an R rating and it remains what version we will see at the festival but regardless, Lynch’s tale of a serial killer who captures and keeps the son of one of his victims remains a must-see.
Ask anyone in this year’s Sleepy Q (the name for the queue formed by those who camp overnight for tickets to the festival) for their pick of the festival and one title came up time and time again, V/H/S. A hit at Sundance and SXSW, the film is made up of six ghoulish tales from six different directors including Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die) and Ti West (The House of the Devil). I’m surprised how excited I am about this anthology considering my take on the two that premiered last year as I was one of about six people who didn’t fall in love with Chillerama and the less said about The Theatre Bizarre the better. However, with the great feedback feeding anticipation of the involvement of West, one of the genres brightest talents, it looks set to be the one that most, including me, are looking forward to.
Hell, it might even wield enough scares to convert the found-footage haters, a group that at last year’s Frightfest seemed incredibly strong in numbers.
Check back around the last week of August for my pick of the best from the festival. I may be proved right or left knee-deep in blood-soaked humble pie. We’ll see.