Glasgow FrightFest has became a staple of my year since the first time that a few friends and I took a punt on spending almost a full day in the cinema watching horror movies. Since then it has grown, with more and more films being screened each year.
This was my groups’ collective fifth year at the festival and as we made our way to the Glasgow Film Theatrer, our gracious hosts welcomed us in and gave us a bit of a rundown of what was coming up. Before we knew it, the first film was on the way and the first beers were reaching lips around the cinema, FrightFest was officially underway.
Read on for a quick summary of what was shown.
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel
You get the feeling this must have been a joy to make, or at least made with ease because the man himself is so charming and endearing that you are all ready in love with him before his tale has really got going. Roger Corman has made over 300 movies in his career as a writer, director and a producer. Building his reputation during the 50’s and 60’s on over the top, low budget movies with dodgy effects and questionable acting, the man has made quite a name for himself.
The passion and guts that this man has is astounding. We follow him on his journey as he’s willing to shoot just about anywhere and willing to use any work arounds to deliver the film he wants to make, despite his limited resources. One interesting thing to point out is that while making The Trip, Roger felt he couldn’t make the film without trying LSD himself and having someone take notes on how he felt and acted.
Roger Corman has the uncanny ability to find people with the talent in them to do something great and give them the freedom (freedom they sometimes don’t necessarily want) to go and do it. Many famous actors and directors learnt their trade from Roger Corman or got their breaks from him. Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Francis Ford Coppolla, James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson are just a few of the names that would be on the list of Corman’s students.
Honestly, this documentary is great. I don’t think there is anything better than seeing someone with a passion for something just going and doing it without compromising. Plus, the fact that Roger Corman is such a lovely guy makes it even better. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable look at one of Hollywood’s true legends.
Bottom Line: 4 / 5
Undying Love follows a lone survivor as he goes through his early morning routine in his safe house, through pictures and the occasional flashback we learn a bit about the man’s past and those that he has lost. Suited and booted with a bat in hand, he heads out into the derelict world and begins to scavenge, looking for supplies. It’s here that things begin to kick off.
Without giving too much away, Undying Love is a decent short film. The zombie effects are pretty good but the film felt far too familiar for those who are fans of the genre. This leads to a lot of predictability and ultimately, boredom.
Bottom Line: 2 / 5
Tape 407: The Mesa Reserve Incident
Back in the horror mindset, I was all set for something a bit more substantial. Sadly though, I was going to have to wait a little longer because Tape 407 was next. This one takes on the style of a found footage film following a group of survivors on their way to Los Angeles who survive a plane crash only to find themselves in a remote area where all is not well.
Things don’t start great when the set up for the movie involves a ridiculously annoying thirteen year old named Trish with a grating voice controlling the camera. Thankfully, it isn’t long before the plane hits turbulence. When the camera is brought back to life, Trish is no longer in control but her slightly less annoying older sister Jessie is. Unfortunately, there’s no sympathy to be found for the injured annoying girl who just shredded my ears.
The survivors clamber outside together next to the wreckage an the overused excuse that the camera is their main source of light becomes the crutch for the first person view. Some strange noises later and our motley crew are on the run. While the few that have seen what’s chasing them may not know what it is, it won’t be long before you figure it out. What follows is a lot of questionable actions by the survivors as they try to stay alive, as well as the usual gripes with first person view, like would you really still be holding a camera when two hands would save someone?
The cast themselves are pretty unlikeable with the exception of the stewardess who takes the brunt of the survivors complaints and the burly Charlie who at times is the film’s saviour. It’s hard to recommend this one. Nothing really works and the dialogue is almost always so bad that it will have you laughing. Gaming fans, look out for a Gabe Newell look-a-like at the end should you subject yourself to this.
Bottom Line: 1 / 5
More of a thriller than a horror, Crawl is pretty fantastic. The film centres around three main characters; Marilyn Burns, Slim, who is the comic relief, and a Croatian gentleman known as the Stranger.
We follow Marilyn as she finishes her shift and prepares for a big night with her boyfriend who she thinks will be popping the question later in the evening. Then there’s Slim, who owns the bar Marilyn works at and has done some dodgy dealings with the Stranger which he’s no longer feeling comfortable about. Lastly, the Stranger is finishing up a job for Rick Mayall and he begins moving on to the next one.
The three stories intertwine through some unforeseen events and the tension builds perfectly thanks to director Paul China‘s spotless pacing and control of the film. With little dialogue, the use of sound in the movie is also majorly impressive, with strings and silence being magnificently used to create the soundtrack to the suspense.
There is lots to love about Crawl. The Stranger character in particular, who could’ve so easily fell into being the clichéd stalker horror bad guy, is a true standout.
Bottom Line: 4 / 5
Through a flashback we are introduced to Adam, who losses his wife and daughter as something takes them while he looks for supplies. Back to the present day and a group of 5 consisting of Rick (Dominic Monaghan), Adam (Shawn Ashmore), Mary (Ashley Bell), Shannon (Shannyn Sossamon) and Henson(Cory Hardrict) have made their way into a clear and abandoned house surrounded by deserted land.
Henson is suffering heavily from an illness and a debate begins on whether to stay put or move out with the argument that Henson needs to recover. As things trundle on we learn that the group are school friends with the exception of Mary, who they met along the way. Shannon doesn’t take kindly to her lone wolf style and the two split off while out setting traps for food.
By now my early enthusiasm is beginning to dwindle, that is until things kick up a notch as it turns out the house is a trap set by what the group fear the most. Cue manic scenes and Mary taking an almost Evil Dead Ash transformation into a badass and the film is now a full on siege movie with group trying to hold out inside the house against the horde that’s coming for them.
This is the second time that an Ashmore film at FrightFest has started off rather disappointing only to make a complete U-turn into a good movie (the last one being Shawn’s twin, Aaron Ashmore, in The Shrine). While The Day isn’t perfect, it’s a pretty good film and worth a watch. Give it roughly 30 minutes and the Ashmore effect kicks in with a nice finishing touch.
Bottom Line: 3 / 5
War Of The Dead
In 1939 the Nazis were performing ‘anti death’ experiments in an underground bunker on Russian soldiers, one of which we see being injected at the beginning of the film. A few years later we join American and Finnish soldiers as they move into Soviet territory to secure the mysterious bunker.
The soldiers meet fierce resistance from the Soviet forces causing them massive losses. Penned in, the American and Finnish forces try to catch their breath as the Soviet attack ends, only to be set upon by the Russian soldiers zombified by the SS experiments.
Most are killed and with a handful left to see out the night, the group try to survive. We’re eventually left with Stone, your stereotypical American soldier one liners and all, Lieutenant Laakso, the last Finn standing and a Russian soldier named Kolya who just wants to survive.
War Of The Dead is hammy and over the top. The acting is horrid and the zombies aren’t even that great. For the final film, this one was ultimately a disappointment.
Bottom Line: 2 / 5
Day one over and done, it was back to the hotel to sleep off the few drinks that were enjoyed and to prepare for another day of FrightFest!