Frightfest Day two and three; Friday and Saturday

A picture to prove I was there


The second day kicked off earlier than the day before so it was twice as busy. I attended the Total Film retrospective of Larry Fessenden in the afternoon. This comprised of first an informative and passionate short introduction from the Total Film guy about this supposedly underrated film director. There was also a short film showing sections of the four films he has directed to date. Then the guy came on himself answered a few of the Total Film dude’s questions, then an audience Q and A when finally he was joined on the stage for a panel discussion featuring Ti West, Adam Green, Lucky Mckee, Joe Lynch and Andrew van den Houten.

I enjoyed this little segment of the festival very much, and I found that I was learning something from being there; I actually felt smarter. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have a monkey’s who this Fessenden bloke was, and I came away feeling that I ought to have.  Fessenden looked a lot like mid life Jake Nicholson minus his front teeth and he swore an awful lot.  He came across as a sound guy with a genuine love for making horror pictures and a distaste for the Hollywood executives. He claimed to make movies that he would love to go and see and he harboured an extreme dislike for unnecessary gore and violence within the genre. A series of interesting facts that I learnt from Larry: he went to the same school as George W Bush, he came from a privileged background, he has his own production company which nurtures new directional talent and that he was down to direct the remake of The Orphanage with Guillermo Del Toro producing but because of a difference of opinion with the studio parted from the project.

When Fessenden was joined on stage for the panel discussion with the series of other directors I was told that the stage was filled with a who’s who of talent from the US scare scene. There was the guy that directed House of the Devil, the guy that directed Hatchet 1 and 2 and the guy that directed Woman. Trouble was that I had never seen these films and therefore did not recognise any of them. However the panel was more than motivating, as they discussed a series of issues concerning the state of horror movies today. You could tell that these kids were from the 80’s generation; proper horror movie buffs, as they lamented on topics such as remakes doing a disservice to the original, and how the independent industry releases them from appeasing the bosses from big studio pictures.

Ti West told of a turbulent time directing Cabin Fever 2, and Adam Green recalled he was unnecessarily told to put “a scary fridge” within a scene. The main beef with all those on stage was that when the suits interfered with the making of a film and if director happened to disagree with their suggestions; that said director is then said to be “difficult”. Adam Green was definitely the most charismatic, and humorous, and I will definitely be checking out Hatchet. He told an entertaining anecdote concerning a preview screening of one of his films, where the inner-city audience was asked to write their thoughts on an audience response card. I am paraphrasing here but it went something along the lines where one particular response was negative claiming that 1. Need some Glock 9’s SA, 2. Was a bit slow and 3. The bitch didn’t get her titties out. Suffice to say that all of these complaints, from this one viewer made it to a meeting on ways to improve the film. I also saw Johnathan Ross and Jane Goldman by the bar, but had left my camera at home. Next time huh?

The Glassman VERDICT: B

By chance I went to see the world premiere of The Glassman in the evening, and it is safe to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  The film’s subtlety humorous process topically tackles fear in this existing financial turmoil of the present day. Andy Nyman plays Martin Pyrite (kudos on the fictional name) who is made redundant but continues the charade of going to work instead of telling his wife (Neve Campbell) the truth. Soon enough he runs into financial difficulties and is then visited by an intimidating debt collector (James Cosmo) who offers him a frightening ultimatum.

Discussing The Glassman with one member of the audience, they referred to the movie as a shit version of Switchblade Romance, of which I have not seen, but will do now. I feel that it is more of a darker yet at the same time more comic Sixth Sense exploring themes that are relevant and stripping naked the psyche of its meek impoverished leading role (well done Nyman!). The direction is tight, the acting flawless and top marks go to the cinematographer; I don’t know your name but I have never seen London look so beautiful. I saw the director and actor Chris Solimeno waltzing around the Empire foyer, when it suddenly dawned on me that he was Jason Turner in Footballers Wives!!


Missed that day because I had to attend a wedding, but I really wanted to catch  The Wicker Tree which was directed by Robin Hardy. Apparently because of the debacle of the Wicker Man remake with Nick Cage, Hardy who was the original director of the Wicker Man made this film as a response. Notably it has Christopher Lee in it and someone whose hippy parents named them HONEYSUCKLE Weeks. I also missed the Troll Hunter preview and the Fright Night preview.


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