SAT 1ST MAR - 11AM - VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS
Director: Jake West. UK 2014, 80 mins. Cert 18
WORLD PREMIERE - The highly anticipated follow-up to their critically acclaimed VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP & VIDEOTAPE documentary, director Jake West and producer Marc Morris continue uncovering the shocking story of home entertainment post the 1984 Video Recordings Act. A time when Britain plunged into a new Dark Age of the most restrictive censorship, where the horror movie became the bloody eviscerated victim of continuing dread created by self-aggrandizing moral guardians. With passionate and entertaining interviews from the people who lived through it and more jaw dropping archive footage, get ready to reflect and rejoice the passing of a landmark era.
My love of horror was born in the early 1980s when my parents bought me a B&W portable television for my bedroom. I used to stay up late on a Saturday night to watch the BBC2 horror double bills. Another highlight of my week was the Saturday afternoon trip to a video rental store in a nearby town. The video nasties debacle was still a couple of years away and the shelves were awash with lurid images. I used to stare agog at the video covers on display; I Spit On Your Grave, SS Experiment Camp, Cannibal Apocalypse. Then the 1984 Video Recordings Act forced video stores to clean up their act and the weekly pilgrimage to these once hallowed purveyors of perverse thrills was never the same again. I’ve seen Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape documentary and loved it. Last year one of the highlights of Frightfest Glasgow ended up being a documentary. I’m confident this year will be no different.
SAT 1ST MAR-1.30PM-THE SCRIBBLER
Director: John Suits. Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku. US 2014, 88 mins, Cert 18.
WORLD PREMIERE - Based on writer artist Dan (DOGHOUSE) Shaffer’s celebrated graphic novel comes a thrilling blend of sci-fi action, film noir and mind-bending slasher. ·Dealing with multiple-personality disorder, Suki moves into a halfway house for recently released mental patients. But residents are dying at an alarming rate in the facility as dissociative Suki undergoes an experimental procedure to cure her illness involving ‘The Siamese Burn’ machine designed to eliminate her unwanted identities. But she's losing time, and the machine is changing, doing something new, something that turns her world inside out and highlights the dangers of mechanical thinking in an organic world.
First up I can confirm that the source graphic novel (adapted here by its author/artist Dan Schaffer) is excellent and in the right hands should make for a quirky, thrilling 88 minute thrill ride. I’m unfamiliar with director John Suits’ previous work but, here, he’s assembled a remarkable cast that includes not only two Joss Whedon alumni but also Katie Cassidy from CBS’s Arrow in the lead role of Suki and the always brilliant Garret Dillahunt who, although not bearing any kind of physical resemblance to the character of Hogan as drawn in the comic, will, based on past form surely knock it out the park. Off the back of having enjoyed the graphic novel so much I’m much more excited about this one than I was initially.
SAT 1ST MARCH - 4.00PM - TORMENT
Director: Jordan Barker Cast: Peter DaCunha, Katharine Isabelle, Stephen McHattie. Canada, 2013, 90 mins, Cert 18.
UK PREMIERE - Newlyweds Cory and Sarah Morgan head to the country for some much-needed family time where they hope Liam, Cory’s struggling 7-year-old son from his previous marriage, will learn to accept his stepmother. But arriving at their home they discover someone has been living there while they were away. ·After speaking with the Sheriff they assume the intruders have moved on, however when Liam disappears they discover just how wrong they were. For they must confront a deranged family of killers who have been hiding in the house all along and are now holding Liam in their sadistic cult-like grip.
The presence of Katharine Isabelle (American Mary) and Stephen McHattie (Pontypool) in this slice of home invasion horror provides more than ample reason to be excited about Torment. The former has been excellent in everything I’ve seen her in, even turning the rather average 13 Eerie into something worth watching whilst the latter was simply incredible in both Pontypool and last year’s wonderful Haunter where he proved he could deliver an awesome bad guy (seriously...check it out). Another good portent is that Torment comes to us courtesy of Spanish production company Filmax International who have consistently delivered some of the most impressive genre movies in recent memory including the [REC] series and Miguel Angel Vivas' vicious Kidnapped. Reports suggest that this is less a display of blood-soaked You’re Next style carnage and more an exercise in suspense. I’m fine with that. Here’s hoping it delivers.
SAT 1ST MAR - 6.30PM - MINDSCAPE
Director: Jorge Dorado. Cast: Mark Strong, Taissa Famiga, Brian Cox. US/Spain2013, 95 mins, Cert 18.
UK PREMIERE- John is a mind detective, paid to enter people’s memories and uncover the reality behind crimes. It’s down to people like him to explore the shadows of the psyche sifting out selective fact from false recognition fiction. But what will he make of his new assignment, the brilliant, troubled and allegedly sexually abused teenager Anna? As John enters her mind and becomes more involved in her total recall, he must decide if she is indeed the victim of unspeakable trauma or a very clever and manipulative sociopath. Produced by Jaume Collet-Serra (ORPHAN, UNKNOWN, NON-STOP), can you guess the twist ending?
Mindscape director Jorge Dorado has an impressive resume as Assistant Director having worked with both Pedro Almodóvar and Guillermo Del Toro. That’s enough to make me sit up and pay attention. He also finds himself in charge of a great cast here. Taissa Famiga has been consistently impressive in American Horror Story and I’m looking forward to seeing Mark Strong taking centre stage for a change. The presence of Brian Cox is just the icing on an already delicious looking cake. The only problem I have is that this kind of thing has been done many times before and as a result it’s going to be tricky for the film-makers to negotiate the minefield of the familiar and deliver a truly surprising twist ending. Twist endings are in and of themselves often a bullet in the foot of a movie. If the movie is overly reliant on that last minute surprise why bother watching it again except perhaps to pick up on the moments that telegraph it. Here’s hoping that Mindscape has more going for it than a sting in the tail.
SAT 1ST MAR - 9.00PM - ALMOST HUMAN
Director: Joe Begos. Cast: Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh, Josh Ethier. US, 2013 80 mins.
SCOTTISH PREMIERE - Mark Fisher disappeared from home in a blinding blue light flash. His friend Seth Hampton was the last person to see him alive. Two years later, a series of atrocious, grisly murders leads Seth to believe that Mark has somehow returned, but changed into something different, strange… not of this world. Mark has indeed become a humanoid alien receptacle for evil - and the last place you should look is in his cellar. The surprise hit at Toronto Midnight Madness, this short, sharp shock of super-violent scares and sci-fi splatter announces director Joe Begos’ arrival as an exciting genre talent.
This movie first came to my attention back at the start of 2013 when my Afraid of the Dark co-conspirator Sam Inglis (24 Frames Per Second) and I were trying (and ultimately failing) to pull together a Glasgow based horror film festival of our own. I trawled the internet for anything that looked like it would play well to a festival audience. In the course of doing so I came across so many sub-mediocre looking movies that I was filled with joy when I came across something that looked special. Almost Human was one of those special looking movies; one that would potentially be a killer addition to the line-up we were assembling. Everything about it, the poster, the trailer, screamed old school until its throat was raw and bloody. It looked like a lost movie from the halcyon days of video rental when horror was booming and venerable classics were dropping into the orbit of genre fans like a meteor storm of gruesome thrills. So yeah…I’m looking forward to Almost Human and hope it lives up to the poster/trailer.
SAT 1ST MAR - 11.15PM - KILLERS
Directors: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto. Cast: Ray Sahetapy, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi. Indonesia/Japan, 2013, 140 mins. Cert 18
UK PREMIERE - Join The Mo Brothers (MACABRE) on a dark voyage into the warped minds of two men with nothing in common: Nomura, a self-obsessed serial killer residing in Tokyo who posts his sick handiwork on the internet, and Bayu, a failing journalist and struggling father in Jakarta who turns sadistic vigilante. Connected through their violent blood-soaked incidents, both men inexplicably start to feed off each other. But as their lives become more uncontrollable, each of them starts a shocking journey into a toxic maze of violent self-discovery. Fresh from Sundance comes this twisted tale by NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE producer Ushiyama Takuji.
My knowledge of the Mo Brothers doesn’t extend beyond Timo Tjahanto’s contributions to The ABC’s of Death and V/H/S/2. His L is for Libido segment of the former was just plain wrong on an abundance of levels whilst Safe Haven, his collaboration with Gareth Evans (The Raid) for the latter kicked my arse so hard I couldn’t sit down for a week. It was far and away the best thing in V/H/S/2 and one of my horror highlights of 2013. Having cast my eyes over the trailer for Killers I’m certain this is going to end Frightfest Glasgow 2014 with an explosion of hyper-kinetic, peddle to the floor, unadulterated violence. Word of mouth from the Sundance Film Festival where it premiered suggests this delivers big time. Bring it on.
So concludes my preview of Frightfest Glasgow 2014. My preview of Day One can be found here. If you're attending the festival be sure to drop back in over the course of the next few weeks. We're far from done with our coverage of the biggest horror event on the Glasgow calendar. Share your thoughts on this year's line-up below or via the Afraid of the Dark Twitter Feed (@AOTDBlog).