FrightFest was 15 years old this August Bank Holiday and the organisers celebrated in style, with over 60 features and 20 short films scaring the popcorn from the hands of thousands of baying horror fans.
But, while FrightFest was the one celebrating a birthday, it was actually the ticket buyers who got the tricks and treats.
Every film festival stands or falls on the quality of the movies available, horror in particular, but FrightFest consistently presents a meaty programme of fear flicks year after year for fans to feast upon.
2014 was no exception. Opening movie The Guest cast Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens as a mad war veteran you definitely wouldn’t want to take home to mum, and was a roof-raising crowd pleaser.
Closing the festival sixty-odd movies later was The Signal, an impressive sci-fi thriller starring Hannibal’s Laurence Fishburne.
Between these two movies there was rampant cannibalism (Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno), sweet, beyond-the-grave zombie romance (Life After Beth), riveting drama disguised as horror (The Harvest), an Aussie belter (The Babadook), an American high-school splatterfest (All Cheerleaders Die), mad horror musicals (Stage Fright), Nazi zombies (Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead) and world cinema with not-for-nan full frontal male arousal (The Samurai).
Horror icon Robert Englund was present to host screenings of his new film The Last Showing and introduce a 30th anniversary screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street to a couple of hundred lucky punters. This is just one example of why FrightFest has lasted for 15 outings – Freddy Krueger introduced the film that launched him upon the world.
But FrightFest is not just about films on the main screens. The Discovery Screen often contains the real festival gems and 2014 delivered the goods once more.
Venezuelan horror The House at the End of Time was our personal favourite of the five days, while other delights included the insane Japanese movie R-100, the Skype frightener The Den, delirious 1979 mind-fryer The Visitor and Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins’ Show Pieces.
The latter, a portmanteau trilogy, was introduced by creators Moore and Jenkins in what was widely regarded as the festival’s best Q&A. This is another example of why FrightFest has lasted for 15 years – Alan Moore rarely strays beyond his beloved Northampton, but the Watchmen and V for Vendetta author ventured to London to host a screening of his marvellous movie.
So, did the move provide a suitable Vue to a kill? An opening night scrum in the foyer with staff who resembled flight attendants who’d just been told they have to land the plane did not bode well.
But these were teething troubles that vanished over the weekend as the legendary FrightFest crowd settled into the new home, a party atmosphere took hold, and the quality of the movies gave everyone reason to be bloody happy.
The only noticeable absences were the shorts, exclusive clips and video messages that in previous years have popped up before the main features.
However, visitors were “treated” to repeated pre-movie adverts for The Strain, a new show coming to Watch on Wednesday 17th September (no need to check the date, it’s etched in our brains).
The biggest laugh of the weekend came courtesy of an audience member on Sunday who cried out, “Okay, I’ll f*cking watch it!”
They do things dead good at FrightFest. Which is why FrightFest 2015 is a dead cert.
Gutted you missed the August Bank Holiday event? Fear not! A FrightFest Halloween all-dayer has been scheduled for Saturday 25th October. Expect details on the official FrightFest website soon.