By MICHAEL GINGOLD
For its 21st edition, the UK’s most popular horror and fantasy festival is going on-line, with a jam-packed lineup of 25 films showing between August 27-31. The full schedule and info on the movies have now been released.
The screenings will be geo-locked for UK audiences, and include movies from 10 countries and numerous world premieres. Among those are a pair (THEY’RE OUTSIDE and PLAYHOUSE) being shown under the First Blood banner showcasing first-time feature directors, supported by the fest’s broadcast sponsor Horror Channel. There are also a few on-line panels/events in the mix as well. Passes and tickets go on sale August 1 at the FrightFest website, http://www.frightfest.co.uk where you can also find further details on accessing the festival and selecting the films.
Thursday, August 27
19:00 THE EVOLUTION OF HORROR FRIGHTFEST QUIZ (Event)
Do you know your Carpenter from your Craven? Your HALLOWEEN from your HATCHET? Join us for The Evolution of Horror FrightFest live pub quiz! Mike Muncer (host and producer of the UK’s #1 horror-movie podcast, THE EVOLUTION OF HORROR) will be live-streaming and hosting this year’s quiz and putting your horror knowledge to the test. All are welcome–you can play as a team or as an individual–just watch along with a pen and paper at the ready to jot down your answers. There’ll be several different rounds of horror and FrightFest-centric questions! Join in on the Evolution of Horror YouTube Channel.
21:15 SKY SHARKS (UK Premiere)
Director: Mark Fehse. With Tony Todd, Lynn Lowry, Mick Garris, Barbara Nedeljakova. Germany 2020, 110 mins.
The sea is not enough! Deep in the ice of the Antarctic, a team of geologists uncover an old Nazi laboratory where dark experiments had occurred. In order to conquer the world, the Nazis created modified sharks, which were able to fly and whose riders were genetically mutated, undead superhumans. So a military task force known as “Dead Flesh Four”–comprising reanimated U.S. soldiers who fell in Vietnam–is put together to prevent the universe from facing the jawsome menace again.
Friday, August 28
ARROW VIDEO SCREEN
18:00 THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS VAMPIRES (World Premiere)
Director: Logan Thomas. With Meg Foster, Raphael Sbarge, Emma Holzer, Maria Olsen. U.S. 2020, 81 mins.
Get ready for the Fright Night of your life as the opening frames of visual stylist Logan Thomas’ turbo-charged terror thunders into a breakneck chase that takes place over a 36-hour period. Stranger heroes, Joshua and Ariel, literally crash into each other along a dark road in the dead of night…and before long find themselves pursued across North America, the target of an unstoppable supernatural force.
20:45 12 HOUR SHIFT (UK Premiere)
Director: Brea Grant. With Angela Bettis, David Arquette, Chloe Farnworth, Mick Foley. U.S. 2020, 86 mins.
It’s 1999, the Y2K bug crisis is news, and at a seedy Arkansas hospital, junkie nurse Mandy (MAY’s Angela Bettis) is about to work a double shift. But patient care is not top of her agenda. She’s in the organ-trafficking business with her erratic cousin Regina, who is about to pick up a kidney from her and take it to the dealers. But the kidney gets misplaced, and Mandy must find another source, or else she’s toast. Then her brother and a convicted killer are brought into the ER. What else could possibly go outrageously and gruesomely wrong?
HORROR CHANNEL SCREEN
19:00 I AM LISA (World Premiere)
Director: Patrick Rea. With Kristen Vaganos, Jennifer Seward, Manon Halliburton, Carmen Anello. U.S. 2020, 92 mins.
A vicious and corrupt small-town sheriff and her deputies brutalize Lisa and leave her for dead in the nearby woods. There she is bitten by a werewolf and bestowed with supernatural abilities. Can Lisa retain her humanity as she exacts revenge and cedes herself more and more to the wolf side of her personality? A creature feature primed to bullseye the current female empowerment zeitgeist.
21:30 TRIGGERED (UK Premiere)
Director: Alastair Orr. With Reine Swart, Sean Cameron Michael, Liesl Ahlers, Craig Urbani. South Africa 2020, 90 mins.
Nine friends, all harboring a dark secret, go camping in the woods. After a wild night of partying, they wake up with Suicide Vests strapped onto their chests. All have varying times on their countdown clocks. At first they decide to work together, find out how to disarm the bombs and look for help. But then they discover they can “take” one another’s time by killing each other. Let the Battle Royale begin…
Saturday, August 29
ARROW VIDEO SCREEN
12:00 THE COLUMNIST (UK Premiere)
Director: Ivo van Aart. With Genio de Groot, Katja Herbers, Rein Hofman, Bram van der Kelen. The Netherlands 2019, 86 mins.
Newspaper columnist and writer’s-blocked author Femke Boot (Katja Herbers from WESTWORLD) is suddenly flooded with anonymous nasty messages and death threats on her social media pages. Who is responsible and why are they doing it? When she finds out, her revenge is swift and unfortunately deadly. And her mission in life becomes crystal clear.
15:00 THE HORROR CROWD (World Premiere)
Director: Ruben Pla. With Russell Mulcahy, Lin Shaye, Darren Lynn Bousman, Ryan Turek. Mike Mendez, Brea Grant. U.S. 2020, 92 mins.
DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLF MAN, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, ALIEN… What made the creators of these films dream up the nightmares that kept us up at night? Were they as strange and twisted as their creations? And what about today’s creators of horror? Who are the minds behind the macabre of the present day? A revealing, intimate documentary from veteran actor insider Ruben Pla spotlighting the Hollywood horror community, covering such wide-ranging topics as Being the Weird Kid, Sparking the Imagination, Women in Horror, Race Relations, Helping Each Other, Film Festivals, and The Dark Side.
18:00 BLIND (pictured above; UK Premiere)
Director: Marcel Walz. With Sarah French, Jed Rowen, Caroline Williams, Tyler Gallant. U.S. 2020, 88 mins.
Faye is a former actress who lost her vision, and starry career, due to botched laser eye surgery. Struggling to put her lonely and panic-stricken life back together while living alone in her Hollywood Hills dream house, she’s supported by her visually impaired friend Sophia, and her mute physical trainer, Luke. However, what none of them are aware of is the infatuated stranger secretly living in her basement. And the masked Pretty Boy doesn’t wait until dark to finally make his move.
20:45 DON’T CLICK (World Premiere)
Directed by G-Hey Kim. With Valter Skarsgård, Mark Koufos, Catherine Howard, Ry Barrett. Canada 2020, 90 mins.
Some things you can’t unsee… After returning from a late night out, Josh finds his college roommate, Zane, has gone missing. All that remains is his laptop with the screen flashing on a graphic pornography website. As the flashing intensifies, Josh too blacks out, only to suddenly wake up beside Zane in a dank, surreal cellar with no apparent way out. As Josh tries everything he can to save both his friend and himself from a vengeful entity that begins to take control of their bodies and minds, he realizes his biggest challenge to escape may be himself.
HORROR CHANNEL SCREEN
13:00 THE HONEYMOON PHASE (UK Premiere)
Director: Phillip G. Carroll Jr. With François Chau, Tara Westwood, Ione Butler, Mike Sutton. U.S. 2020, 89 mins.
Struggling young lovers Tom and Eve lie about being married so they can enter “The Millennium Project.” For a fee of $50,000, the 30-day scientific study analyzes the relationships of participating couples while they reside in clinically futuristic, secluded smart homes. Run by a mysterious researcher and his associate, the experiment leads Eve into a violent descent of madness questioning her lover’s trust. Is Eve suffering from cabin fever? Or is it just part of the study Tom’s in on? For he might not be the man she thinks he is.
14:00 PLAYHOUSE (World Premiere)
Directors: Toby Watts, Fionn Watts. With Julie Higginson, James Rottger, Helen Mackay, Rebecca Calienda. UK 2020, 87 mins.
Reckless Jack Travis is an irreverent horror writer notorious for scaring audiences. But as he obsesses over creating a new theater show set in a haunted Scottish castle, demonic disturbances from deep within the walls begin to prey on his troubled daughter. When the alarming supernatural forces start to close in on him too, Jack is forced to reckon with the terrifying consequences of creating such a dark and macabre play.
19:00 THEY’RE OUTSIDE (World Premiere)
Directors: Airell Anthony Hayles, Sam Casserly. With Emily Booth, Nicholas Vince, Tom Clayton-Wheatley, Chrissy Randall. UK 2020, 83 mins.
Max Spencer, a YouTube celebrity psychologist, host of the show “Psychology-Inside/Out,” sets himself the challenge of getting an intensely agoraphobic woman to leave her home in just 10 days. However, as the minutes, hours and seconds count down, a creepy local legend about the black magic-practicing Green Eyes that holds the town in its grip, starts to become a horrifying reality…
21:30 DARK PLACE (UK Premiere)
Directors: Kodie Bedford, Liam Phillips, Robert Braslin, Perun Bonser, Bjorn Stewart. With Nelson Baker, Katherine Beckett, Shakira Clanton, Bernard Curry. Australia 2019, 75 mins.
A groundbreaking anthology feature that approaches post-colonial Aboriginal Australian history through the thought-provoking lenses of historical parallels, horror, gore and fantasy. Female oppression and revenge take center stage in Kodie Bedford’s punchy “Scout.” An insomniac questions her sanity in Liam Phillips’ suspenseful “Foe.” Supernatural forces visit a housing commission estate in the gritty “Vale Light” by Rob Braslin. Gothic horror shrouds the woods in Perun Bonser’s atmospheric “The Shore.” And Bjorn Stewart brings Outback zombies sharply into the frame in the rollicking splatter comedy “Killer Native.”
Sunday, August 30
ARROW VIDEO SCREEN
12:00 SKULL: THE MASK (UK Premiere)
Directors: Armando Fonseca, Kapel Furman. With Natalia Rodrique, Tristan Aronovich, Guta Ruiz, Eduardo Semerjia. Brazil, 2020.
In the year 1944, desperate Nazis find a South American artifact with supernatural powers they use in a last-ditch military experiment. But they have no idea how powerful the Mask of Anhangá actually is. The barbaric experiment fails and now the cursed mask has turned up in Sao Paulo to possess victims who commit visceral sacrifices and shocking bloodbaths. Beatriz Obdias is the policewoman in charge of solving the series of brutal crimes, a slaughter spree of mystically epic proportions, and ones that will challenge her whole belief system.
15:00 HAIL TO THE DEADITES (International Premiere)
Director: Steve Villeneuve. With Patricia Tallman, Ellen Sandweiss, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, John Fallon. Canada 2020, 79 mins.
An entertaining and informative documentary about THE EVIL DEAD and the 1983 cult classic shocker’s continuing cultural impact. Through interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, freaks and geeks, HAIL TO THE DEADITES seeks to illuminate the darkest reaches of director Sam Raimi’s brainchild and its undying and still-growing popularity, an esteem that has spawned four films, a TV series, comic books and figurines, and surpassed even its creators’ wildest dreams. Putting the spotlight on the fans that cultivated and spread this groovy pop-culture infection, join the celebration of those who’ve celebrated one of the most admired fear franchises of all time.
18:00 HALL (World Premiere)
Director: Francesco Giannini. With Carolina Bartczak, Yumiko Shaku, Mark Gibson, Bailey Thain. Canada 2020, 85 mins.
When a hotel hallway is ravaged by a dreadful airborne virus, pregnant Japanese runaway wife Naomi is tragically thrust into the fight of her life. After getting infected, she is forced to crawl her way through other helpless victims to escape. In the room next door to her is Val, a mother trapped in a toxic marriage, who must also navigate her way out of the hotel corridor, desperately looking for her young daughter Kelly. Will these two women avoid the debilitating sickness and get out alive?
20:45 A GHOST WAITS (English Premiere)
Director: Adam Stovall. With MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer, Amanda Miller. U.S. 2020, 79 mins.
Jack’s job is to fix up the house. Spectral agent Muriel’s eternal task is to haunt it. They should be enemies, but they become fascinated by one another and eventually smitten, leading them to question everything about their work, lives, and decisions. But as pressure mounts for them to fulfill their duties, something’s got to give for the time together they both so desperately want.
HORROR CHANNEL SCREEN
13:00 CLAPBOARD JUNGLE: SURVIVING THE INDEPENDENT FILM BUSINESS (European Premiere)
Director: Justin McConnell. With Guillermo del Toro, Buddy Giovinazzo, Charles Band, Frank Henenlotter. Canada 2020, 98 mins.
Following five years in the life and career of independent filmmaker Justin McConnell, this documentary aims to understand the struggles of financing, attracting the right talent, working with practical effects and selling the finished product in the hope of turning a profit. Interviewing everyone from Guillermo del Toro, Paul Schrader, Dick Miller, Mick Garris, Tom Holland, Sid Haig and a host of other genre luminaries, not only are technical aspects and interpersonal skills discussed but also the emotional stamina and little-known tips needed to survive in the low-budget film industry.
16:00 TWO HEADS CREEK (UK Premiere)
Director: Jesse O’Brien. With Kerry Armstrong, Kathryn Wilder, Gary Sweet, Stephen Hunter. Australia 2019, 93 mins.
After the death of their adoptive Polish mother, a timid butcher and his drama-queen twin sister leave post-Brexit UK and take an adventure into the Australian Outback in search of their biological mother. But the seemingly tolerant townsfolk of the sleepy Two Heads Creek backwater are hiding a sinister, meaty secret and the pair must reconcile their sibling differences in a fight for their lives.
19:00 PANEL: HORROR IN LOCKDOWN (Event)
Hosted by Rosie Fletcher, UK Editor of Den of Geek, our panel of special guests from the industry will discuss how the horror genre has been affected by the global pandemic. What does the shape of horror look like now that we’re all actually living in a real-life horror film? What do filmmakers do when productions have to be shut down? How are horror writers coping with lockdown? How are the stories we want to hear affected by our changed world? And what might the genre look like on the other side? The panel will run live, for 90 minutes in total with a chance for viewers to ask questions at the end.
21:30 AQUASLASH (UK Premiere)
Director: Renaud Gauthier. With Nicolas Fontaine, Brittany Drisdelle, Lanisa Dawn, Nick Walker. Canada 2019, 92 mins.
The Wet Valley Water Park welcomes high school students celebrating their graduation in all their unleashed libido glory. However, in the midst of the ribald romping revels, a black-gloved murderer is tinkering with the water slides and sabotaging the swimming pools. Thrills, chills, spills and screwball comedy meet splashy shocks and gory dismemberment in a chlorine- and blood-drenched murder mystery.
Monday, August 31
ARROW VIDEO SCREEN
12:00 ARROW VIDEO PODCAST (Event)
With the Arrow Video Podcast now entering its fourth year, join illustrious co-hosts–filmmaker and journalist Sam Ashurst (FRANKENSTEIN’S CREATURE) and SFX guru Dan Martin (LORDS OF CHAOS, THE GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR)–for a live recording of an upcoming episode. Expect some insider gossip, very special guests and previews, plus exclusive Arrow Video announcements. They promise to be more professional this time.
15:00 AV THE HUNT (UK Premiere)
Director: Emre Akay. With Ahmet Rifat Sungar, Baki Kaymaz, Yagizcan Konyah, Billur Melis Koç. Turkey 2019, 86 mins.
A young couple are making love when suddenly a cop barges in. Young and athletic Ayse escapes but her lover is murdered. Now all the men in her strict family are chasing her around the city and the countryside to kill her in order to avenge their honor. Ayse’s only key for endurance is to become as ruthless as those pursuing her. A gruesomely realistic chiller depicting a young woman’s fight and evolution from hunted to hunter in a patriarchal society combined with a strong feminist message.
18:00 DARK STORIES (UK Premiere)
Directors: François Descraques, Guillaume Lubrano. With Clément Crochet, Jonas Dinal, Pierre Henri Toubas, Dominique Pinon. France 2019, 75 mins.
What if Demons, the Living Dead, Evil Dolls, Djinn and other extraterrestrial creatures came to haunt our apartments, houses, cafes, museums and other places of daily life? DARK STORIES tells five tales of gripping terror in a fantastic anthology where horror, suspense and humor intertwine with stark reality to make us shiver with fear! Join us for a Ghoul’s Feast, the Last Judgment before the impending Apocalypse, a surprise package from the deliveryman, a forensic scientist confronted by his zombie victim and the worst Moroccan monster nightmare.
HORROR CHANNEL SCREEN
13:00 ENHANCED (UK Premiere)
Director: James Mark. With George Tchortov, Alanna Bale, Adrian Holmes, Chris Mark. Canada 2019, 99 mins.
George belongs to a powerful secret unit dedicated to hunting down illegal mutants after an experiment goes bad. David, an unstoppable “Enhanced” claiming vengeance against the corrupt government who used him, tracks down other similar mutants to join his mission. But when he starts to eliminate them, getting stronger each time he kills others just like him, his true psychopathic plans are revealed. For he is planning world domination of a transformed kind. Now George must join forces with an unlikely partner, Anna, a mutant he captured to end David’s killing spree.
16:00 BLINDERS (UK Premiere)
Director: Tyler Savage. With Christine Ko, Vincent Van Horn, Michael Lee Joplin, Dusty Sorg. U.S. 2020, 90 mins.
We now live in a world where fake news is reality, where the bad guys win because they manipulate our collective vulnerabilities. Meet Andy Escobedo, starting fresh after a messy break-up, relocating from Austin to Los Angeles. Eager to make new connections, he befriends Roger, an unusual ride-share driver. But when Roger’s behavior gets too strange for comfort, Andy dumps him, choosing to focus on a budding relationship with Sam instead. But Roger has no intention of being ditched that easily…
19:00 THE SWERVE (UK Premiere)
Director: Dean Kapsalis. With Azura Skye, Bryce Pinkham, Ashley Bell, Zach Rand. U.S. 2018, 95 mins.
In writer/director Dean Kapsalis’ stunning feature debut, a shimmering American take on Michael Haneke-style torment, a woman battles depression, rodents, guilt and more in a superbly acted slow burner certain to leave a haunting impression. Holly is a wife, mother, teacher, and daughter whose psychosis starts to crumble after she’s part of a deadly car accident. But did that actually happen or not? Just one of many things on her disintegrating mind, along with her difficult two sons, her very distant husband, a student in class who shows inappropriate interest and her “perfect” sister who returns to the fold.