Friday, August 31, 2007

FrightFest 2007 - Day 5 (Monday)

Send... More... Paramedics...

Bank Holiday Monday meant one thing - the zombie walk! Mike's sterling efforts to break the World Record for the biggest gathering of zombies had us up at the crack of dawn preparing our costumes (with grateful thanks to Chrissy) and applying a slap of face paint. My 'brains' recipe worked a treat too - mixing crushed bananas with maple syrup and a dash of red food colouring... I certainly did 'eat my brains' that morning! Steve and I met Sheena & Ashley outside our B&B at 8am and then walked to Leicester Square together in full make up which was great fun. The gathering itself was quite overwhelming - so many people had made such efforts to get dressed up and there was a real carnival atmosphere. I've never been asked to pose for so many photos in my life and we got interviewed by a couple of film crews as well. Sadly we didn't break the record, but it was such good fun nevertheless. You can spot me in the video clips on both CNN and Zone Horror, and there are more professional pictures at Getty Images.

Me and Emily Booth in Leicester Square

Of course, the zombie walk was also arranged to highlight the first screening of the day, The Zombie Diaries. Having previously met Kevin and Sophia I was keen to see this one, and I quite enjoyed its refreshing take on the genre, very much in a similar vein to The Blair Witch Project. After a lengthy clean up and change of clothes we had the ghostly Km 31 but it was just as if every J-Horror cliché was on holiday in Mexico. I couldn't get into it at all, so I walked out about half way through. Not a bad move judging from some of the other comments afterwards. In the break Steve and I joined David & Sophie for a pint in one of the nearby pubs which provided a welcome intermission. Then it was back to the OWE for Adam Green's Spiral, as different a film to Hatchet as you could imagine. Very slow and moody, with a jazz soundtrack, it took me a long while to settle, but the ending really won me round and it seemed to be a favourite with the FrightFest crowd - as was Adam himself who afterwards told his inspiring Dee Snider story to much applause. Next up was Mike Williamson to introduce his 20 minute short In The Wall which was pretty good and then it was the turn of Day Watch (you can read my haiku here). I wasn't sure whether to see this again but was glad that I did - second time around it made perfect sense and the addition of the snazzy subtitles was a marked improvement on the dubbed version I'd seen back in April. And so to the closing film, the one which certain people had been tipping all weekend to be the best of the bunch... and they had it spot on. The World Premiere of The Orphanage was outstanding in every way and gave us at least two shocks which made us quiver in our seats. It was lovely having director Juan Antonio Bayona there in person to witness the reaction to his film and he gave a gracious Q&A after the screening.

Paul McEvoy, Me and Ian Rattray in the Phoenix

Needless to say the evening didn't end there... a sizeable crowd made their way to the Phoenix where we drank and partied until the early hours. A cracking end to yet another cracking FrightFest!

And next week I get to do it all over again in Toronto...

FrightFest Movie Haiku - The Orphanage

Dir: Juan Antonio Bayona

Cast: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cava, Mabel Rivera, Roger Princep

Invisible friends
now son has disappeared too
whole audience jumps

soulmining rating: *****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Spiral

Dir: Adam Green & Joel David Moore

Cast: Joel David Moore, Amber Tamblyn, Zachary Levi, Tricia Helfer

Meets beautiful girl
paints her in many poses
she opens his drawers

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Km 31

Dir: Rigoberto Casteneda

Cast: Iliana Fox, Raul Mendez, Adria Collado, Carlos Aragon

Kid stands in the road
J-horror in Mexico
ghostly goings on

soulmining rating: *

FrightFest Movie Haiku - The Zombie Diaries

Dir: Kevin Gates & Michael Bartlett

Cast: Russell Jones, Craig Stovin, Jonnie Hurn, Sophia Ellis

It spreads like bird flu
zombies come to London streets
countryside diaries

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest 2007 - Day 4 (Sunday)

Paul Spurrier and Me in the Odeon bar

Had to get a few supplies on the way in preparation for Monday's zombie walk, so arrived just in time for Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (to give it its full title, so as not to be confused with the Elisha Cuthbert comedy...) Alas, no comedy here, this was grim stuff based on a true case of child abuse and murder which left some in tears at the end. Definitely the most affecting film of the festival but not one I'd wish to see again. Director Kit Ryan was on hand to introduce Botched which sounded awful but in fact provided some much needed light relief after the previous film. Not a great film by any means, but programmed at the right time and its wackiness amused if you were prepared to excuse the dodgy Russian accents and run with it. Next up was the eagerly anticipated / dreaded Uwe Boll double-bill with the good doctor himself in attendance. He seemed very much at ease and ready to take on any criticisms that would later come his way... Postal wasn't quite as funny as I'd hoped for; offensive to everyone, but on the same kind of level as Troma or Team America, the jokes were hit and miss, but it certainly had its moments. A quick bite to eat with Rob and Nicola and then we returned for Seed, a bleak nihilistic film which featured a brutal prolonged hammer attack - the most shocking thing I saw all weekend. It certainly divided the audience and led to a heated Q&A afterwards. For me, the film worked and is still haunting me with its unpleasant images even now. I bumped into Paul Spurrier on the way out so he joined Thurein and I for a beer and a chat up in the bar - and the good news is that a UK DVD release of P should be with us very soon! Thurein managed to get his photo taken with Reece Sheersmith whilst I said hello to Paul Andrew Williams, and then we dashed back downstairs to watch a long teaser for his forthcoming film The Cottage. Looked very funny, but the jury is out on the man-trap gag which seemed to be totally ripped off from Severance. Director Tom Shankland introduced WΔZ, a gritty urban thriller in a similar vein to Se7en which boasted an intelligent script and some fine performances - one of the strongest films of the festival and one to look out for.

Audiencewalkers - Steve, James and Me

Before the last film of the evening the lovely Emily Booth and Marc Morris took to the stage to introduce a feature on their Grindhouse trailer collection, coming soon to DVD. And then it was Skinwalkers... or rather Audiencewalkers as I then christened it, due to the huge amount of walkouts. It was your typical glossy PG-13 horror/fantasy with appalling dialogue and cheesy action scenes - exactly the type of film I'd be fast-forwarding through if I had the DVD. So we gave it thirty minutes then bailed ourselves, and then laughed when we bumped into James, Jodie, Sarah, Craig, D and Stuart out in the foyer who'd all had the same idea! Steve and I joined James and Jodie for a sneaky free beer up in the bar and that made it all better.

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Skinwalkers

Dir: James Isaac

Cast: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Kim Coates

PG-13 guff
werewolves at war over kid
audience walkers

soulmining rating: *

FrightFest Movie Haiku - WΔZ

Dir: Tom Shankland

Cast: Stellan Skarsgard, Melissa George, Selma Blair, Ashley Walters

Solve the equation
will they sacrifice for love
more sore genitals

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Seed

Dir: Uwe Boll

Cast: Will Sanderson, Ralf Moeller, Michael Pare, Jodelle Ferland

Nihilistic Boll
you might want to close your eyes
ouch it's hammer time

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Postal

Dir: Uwe Boll

Cast: Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola, Michael Benyaer

Cat as silencer
Mini-Me in a suitcase
how many virgins?

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Botched

Dir: Kit Ryan

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Jamie Foreman, Geoff Bell, Sean Pertwee

Heist goes all wacky
killer runs outside the lift
spikes and disco balls

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest Movie Haiku - The Girl Next Door

Dir: Gregory Wilson

Cast: Blythe Auffarth, Daniel Manche, Blanche Baker, Graham Patrick Martin

Tie her up naked
do awful things in basement
brutal true story

soulmining rating: ***

Thursday, August 30, 2007

FrightFest 2007 - Day 3 (Saturday)

Sheena and Ashley in Leicester Square

Another leisurely stroll along to Leicester Square with plenty of time to catch up with our fellow FrightFesters before the day's entertainment began. First up was the Norwegian snowbound thriller Cold Prey introduced by director Roar Uthaug which was pretty decent and looked great up on the big OWE screen. Back outside where I bumped into Ant with Chris and Matt from The Devil Dared Me To and got to hear just how they'd managed to gash their hands open the previous night - ouch! I then sat through Joshua, the movie with the weird kid that I didn't really like. Paul and Ian both hated it but - like nearly every film shown over the weekend - it certainly had its fans. I skipped the first batch of short films and wished I'd missed them all... except for Les Morveux which was a very funny tale of a French bloke using an array of tools to shut up a choir of kids. Storm Warning was a film of two halves; the first part being slow and filled with one dimensional characters, the second part far more exciting as our captive couple got all creative in the shed and dispatched their attackers in all manner of inventive ways. Outside again I was able to get a couple of things signed by Neil Marshall and Joe Lynch and then it was the fiendish FrightFest Quiz hosted by the double act of Alan Jones and David McGillivary - a quiz so hard that Steve, Thurein and I only got two questions right between the three of us! Joe's Wrong Turn 2 was a real crowd pleaser with lots of gore and Henry Rollins totally ruling the film. It also provided my first real 'jump' of the festival and Joe proved to be a hugely enthusiastic guy in the Q&A, coming across like a younger Quentin Tarantino. After another screening of Neil's Doomsday trailer (this time in colour) we had Ant's Trailer Trash compilation (pick of the bunch - Werewolves In A Girls' Dormitory) and then it was into Disturbia which was a surprisingly good slick Hollywood thriller.

The Devil Dared Them To - Matt Heath, Chris Stapp and Ant Timpson display their wounds

Before the final film of the evening we had a double bill of Aussie trailers in the shape of Schooner Of Blood and the brilliantly titled cricket horror-comedy I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer. We also got to see Edgar Wright's Don't, his fake trailer from the Grindhouse movie which was very well received. The Devil Dared Me To was one of the films I'd most been looking forward to and it didn't disappoint; exciting, vulgar and full of swearing - you just don't hear the term "jizzlobber" enough in films nowadays - it was a blast from start to finish and made for the perfect midnight movie. The guys were on top form too and I'm still in awe at their crazy stunt work - check out the closing credits montage and you'll see what I mean.

FrightFest Movie Haiku - The Devil Dared Me To

Dir: Chris Stapp

Cast: Chris Stapp, Bonnie Soper, Matt Heath, Dominic Bowden

He's Randy Campbell
the greatest Kiwi stuntman
whilst friends lose some limbs

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Disturbia

Dir: D.J. Caruso

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse

Spy on the hot babe
suspect neighbour of killings
what's in his garage?

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Wrong Turn 2

Dir: Joe Lynch

Cast: Erica Leehrsen, Henry Rollins, Texas Battle, Daniella Alonso

Rollins' telly show
contestants killed in the woods
dinner for mutants

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Storm Warning

Dir: Jamie Blanks

Cast: Nadia Fares, John Brumpton, Robert Taylor, David Lyons

Posh couple in boat
caught by Aussie hillbillies
fight like The A-Team

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Joshua

Dir: George Ratliff

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, Celia Weston, Jacob Kogan

Jealous of baby
pulls stuffing out of his toys
don't hit in public

soulmining rating: **

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Cold Prey

Dir: Roar Uthaug

Cast: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Viktoria Winge, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Endre Martin Midstigen

Superglue the wound
find a remote mountain lodge
then die one by one

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest 2007 - Day 2 (Friday)

Steve, Sheridan, Stuart and D in Leicester Square

Friday's programme was fit to burst with a whole seven (count 'em) films to get through! An early start, but the luxury of our B&B accommodation afforded us breakfast and plenty of time to be able to walk from Kings Cross to Leicester Square each morning - nice! First up was Hatchet (screened last year - see my haiku here) with a live commentary recording from Adam Green and Alan Jones which was both amusing and informative. Adam did a signing session straight afterwards so the bar was packed as we queued up to get our pictures signed by him. Top bloke, and it was great having him around all weekend.

Thurein grabs a photo with Adam Green

The Sword Bearer was next; I was expecting a Russian adventure epic but the action never arrived - I should have walked out. Sundance fave The Signal was much better, raw and packed with original ideas, it played very well. Bumped into Chris Smith on the stairs as I went up to collect my goodie bag then it was back inside for 1408 with director Mikael Hafstrom in attendance. Better than expected, this was a decent supernatural Hollywood shocker based on a Stephen King short story. Before the next film the FrightFest boys did a raffle for an HD-DVD player and our very own Sean from Eat My Brains was the lucky winner, so well done to him! After the giveaway the inevitable last minute change to the schedule occured - P2 was unavailable so Teeth took its place. I was expecting this film about a girl with vagina dentate to be of the tedious arthouse variety, but much to my surprise it played like a mainstream horror-comedy and was hugely entertaining - my favourite film of the day. The much-hyped All The Boys Love Mandy Lane was the penultimate movie, a good solid horror with a twist and a gorgeous leading lady in the shape of Amber Heard - it's no wonder all the boys love her. Last up was Shrooms which I kept dozing off in so either a) I was too tired, or b) it wasn't very good. Few people seemed to rave about that one as we left the cinema so I'm guessing it was the latter.

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Shrooms

Dir: Paddy Breathnach

Cast: Lindsey Haun, Jack Huston, Max Kasch, Maya Hazen

Six eat 'shrooms in woods
she shouldn't pick Death's Head ones
they have a bad trip

soulmining rating: **

FrightFest Movie Haiku - All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

Dir: Jonathan Levine

Cast: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Michael Welch, Aaron Himelstein

Friends die one by one
vying for her affections
think I love her too

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Teeth

Dir: Mitchell Litchtenstein

Cast: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Lenny Von Dohlen

Don't stick your cock in
it might end up bitten off
then eaten by dog

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - 1408

Dir: Mikael Hafstrom

Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony

Writes rough guide to ghosts
this room is extra spooky
can he last one hour?

soulmining rating: ***

FrightFest Movie Haiku - The Signal

Dir: David Bruckner, Dan Bush & Jacob Gentry

Cast: Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn, AJ Bowen, Sahr Ngaujah

They have the crazy
primal instincts take over
cocktail party fun

soulmining rating: ****

FrightFest Movie Haiku - The Sword Bearer

Dir: Filipp Yankovsky

Cast: Artyom Tkachenko, Chulpan Khamatova, Leonid Gromov, Aleksei Zharkov

Meet Sasha knife-hands
slices through tree trunks with ease
he's the sword borer

soulmining rating: **

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FrightFest 2007 - Day 1 (Thursday)

Joe Lynch and Adam Green being interviewed by Zone Horror's Emily Booth

The biggest and most ambitious FrightFest to date kicked off on Thursday evening at the Odeon West End, London. Steve and I arrived in town early afternoon and checked in to our B&B in Kings Cross after a torturous journey across the city. Dodging the showers we made it to the OWE around 6pm ready for the opening night. It was great seeing so many of the regular FrightFest faces. Thurein and I grabbed a quick chat with Adam Green and Rob was interviewed by Emily Booth for Zone Horror who were covering the festival again this year. NZ sheep-shocker Black Sheep was the opening film, with director Jonathan King present to introduce the screening. A funny comedy-horror, it was the perfect introduction to our weekend of horrors...

Gia and Me at the 28 Weeks Later promo

In the break I managed to say hello to Neil Marshall and his fiancee Axelle, then met up with newbies Sheena & Ashley and got them into the Black Water screening, courtesy of Gia who was there for the 28 Weeks Later promo event. Producer Allon Reich was on hand to show a deleted scene, plus some other tidbits from the upcoming DVD release. Black Water was okay but rather painted itself into a corner once the main characters were stuck up a tree. After the main feature we had another treat in store as Neil Marshall presented his new Doomsday trailer, albeit in black & white after some technical difficulties. Since it was a relatively early finish it was on to the Phoenix to introduce Sheena & Ashley to the real FrightFest experience. The bar was soon packed out and I caught up with Simon Rumley who introduced me to Ant Timpson, the producer of The Devil Dared Me To, and we also grabbed Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2) for a chat. No drunken karaoke or trying to sleep on pavements this time... a good start then!

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Black Water

Dir: Andrew Traucki & David Nerlich

Cast: Diana Glen, Maeve Dermody, Andy Rodoreda, Ben Oxenbould

Sitting in a tree
teasing mister crocodile
where'd that oar come from?

soulmining rating: **

FrightFest Movie Haiku - Black Sheep

Dir: Jonathan King

Cast: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Tammy Davis, Peter Feeney

When good sheep go baaaaaaaad
New Zealand lambs eat farmers
reach for the mint sauce

soulmining rating: ***

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Broken DVD Review

Nadja Brand in Broken

"Nadja Brand gives a bold and brave performance in what must have been a difficult and challenging role..."

"There's no denying that Broken is an unpleasant film... yet it never revels in its brutality..."

"Like it or loathe it, it is compelling viewing and will spark debate..."

You can read my full review at Eat My Brains website here.

Movie Haiku - Eagle vs Shark

Dir: Taika Waititi

Cast: Loren Horsley, Jemaine Clement, Joel Tobeck, Craig Hall

Alien versus
Predator is not like this
quirky funny geeks

soulmining rating: *****

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Foo Fighters at the Concorde

Foo Fighters - Brighton Concorde 2

So this is how it played out. Bennett and I get to the venue around 4:20pm. Massive queues at the bar. Large television camera point towards the rear of the hall so the capacity must be reduced to around 400 lucky punters. We move to the left hand side of the stage as there seems to be plenty of room there. Zane Lowe is DJing behind us, warming up the crowd. At 5pm on the dot Chris Moyles comes on to introduce the Foo Fighters - the place erupts. We've got the larger band for this show - Pat Smear is back on guitar and there's a new cellist with them called Jesse. They open with new single The Pretender and it's immediately clear this is going to be something special. The sound, the lights, the atmosphere and Dave's banter with the audience... well, it just doesn't get better than this, especially when you're up that close. "I've been here since 7:30 this morning," Dave announces early on, then adding, "It's not the first time I've been at a bar at 7:30 in the morning, but it's definitely the busiest bar I've been to at that time." They play a number of classics from the just re-issued album The Colour And The Shape including See You, My Hero and Everlong and surprise everyone with a storming cover of Arcade Fire's Keep The Car Running. There are also a few new songs getting an airing - "This is the first time we're playing a lot of new stuff," says Dave. "I hate to think of it as a rehearsal, but it is... But it's the best rehearsal ever!" He also says that the band love playing these tiny gigs and that they'd like to play in Brighton again soon (well, we can hope...). The 70 minute set concludes with a triple whammy of Monkeywrench, Best Of You and All My Life which has everyone moshing and singing along. And that's it all over. 6:10pm - time for another pint and then back out into bright daylight. Unquestionably the best gig of the year.

You can catch some of the Foo Fighters show at the Concorde 2 on BBCi from Monday.

Movie Haiku - The Bourne Ultimatum

Dir: Paul Greengrass

Cast: Matt Damon, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Paddy Considine

Meet at Waterloo
assassin hot on his heels

find who enrolled him

soulmining rating: ***

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Dandys go Electric

The Dandy Warhols are playing at the Camden Electric Ballroom in October... woo hoo!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Phil & Rob's Birthday Bash!

Me and Rob in the Phoenix Artist Club

This year I decided to do something different for my birthday. Since my friend Rob - who also shares the same birthday as me - has recently moved to London, it seemed like a good idea to organise a little get together, especially as we have a number of mutual friends through FrightFest. So we arranged a little party at the Phoenix last night...

FrightFest crew: Paul, Amanda, Me, Ian and Dave

Eat My Brains team: David, Me, Mike and Russ

Still haunted by my drunken display a year ago, I kept a sensible head and managed to catch the 1am train back to Brighton relatively unscathed!

As a final postscript, Happy Birthday to Sean in Cape Cod too!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Play It Cool in August

Autumn approaches, new albums appear, it's all good... Right, stuff to do, people to see, so let's get on with this month's recommendations for your listening pleasure:
  • Kate Nash - Made Of Bricks (Fiction)
  • Remi Nicole - Go Mr Sunshine - The Remixes (Island) single
  • The Duke Spirit - Roll, Spirit, Roll (City Rockers)
  • Bjork - Medulla (One Little Indian)
  • Asobi Seksu - Citrus (One Little Indian)

Guess who's coming to Brighton?

First it was on, then it was off, then it was moving venues, then it was definitely not happening... but now it is. On Friday.

Foo Fighters @ Brighton Concorde 2

They're playing an hour long set from 5pm which will be recorded for radio and television. Tickets went on sale at midday and I made it down to the wet and windswept queue just early enough to secure a pair. I am so excited!

The gig is part of a Radio 1 weekend in Brighton; The band will spend the whole day with Radio 1 on Friday, from the breakfast show and the Live Lounge onwards. They will play two live tracks on the Chris Moyles Show from 7am and chat to Chris. On Jo Whiley's show from 10am, they will perform an acoustic version of their new single The Pretender plus a very special cover version. The exclusive gig at the Concorde will be broadcast on Radio 1 from 6pm to 7pm. Then from next week, you can also watch highlights of the gig online and by pressing Red on any BBC TV channel. (20-24 August, scheduled times vary).

I have also been invited to "a very special evening" at the venue from 9pm. A further set from the band perhaps?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tegan & Sara at the Komedia

Tegan & Sara - Brighton Komedia

Mention Tegan & Sara to 99% of my friends and they'll have no idea who you are talking about. So I wasn't expecting their show at the Komedia to be a hot ticket, but lo and behold it was a sell out and the venue was packed with rabid fans. Brighton, perhaps? It has to be said, the Canadian twins do tend to attract a certain kind of audience. Anyway, let's clear this up once and for all - that's Tegan on the left and Sara on the right. It only took me about half an hour to figure that out. Twins, eh? The gig then... good; I'd wanted to see them ever since I discovered their If It Was You album about three or four years ago, and reports of their witty between-song banter was right on the mark. Musically they trade vocals, Tegan occasionally moving to play keyboards on some songs. They opened with You Wouldn't Like Me and played quite a lot of stuff off their So Jealous album (including Walking With A Ghost, naturally) but the new songs from The Con (currently only available on import in the UK) sounded equally strong, especially current single Back In Your Head. Good stuff - those 99 friends don't know what they're missing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Movie Haiku - Rush Hour 3

Dir: Brett Ratner

Cast: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Hiroyuki Sanada, Max Von Sydow

Tucker won't shut up
Jackie puts on a brave face
viewers lap it up

soulmining rating: **

Friday, August 10, 2007

Doomsday is coming to FrightFest

Here's a nice little bonus for those people who'll be attending FrightFest over the August Bank Holiday weekend at London's Odeon West End. On the opening night (Thursday 23rd August) Neil Marshall, director of The Descent, will be on hand to show the first trailer and exclusive footage from his forthcoming apocalyptic thriller project Doomsday and answer questions from the audience. This late addition to the programme will take place directly after the 9:30pm screening of the Aussie crocodile movie Black Water - which is also preceded by a special 28 Weeks Later event to promote the forthcoming DVD release - making it an unmissable triple-whammy of terror!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Movie Haiku - Waitress

Dir: Adrienne Shelly

Cast: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Jeremy Sisto

Bakes delicious pies
drunk hubby gets her knocked up
prefers her doctor

soulmining rating: ***