Frightfest part 3: The Quiz Of The Week

My call for contributions led to a suitably … esoteric response from ace storyboard artist and illustrator Jaeson Finn. He tweeted his top five to me, one at a time. Twitter’s 140-character limit meant that he couldn’t put the titles up as well, meaning that I had to guess which films he was on about.

So, hey, why not, I’m reproducing Jeason’s top five below in the form of a quiz. Answers in the comments, please. Get them all right, and you get a properly certified and not at all cribbed from Marvel X&HTrophy (worth it’s weight in pixels).

Have fun. You get me again next week, and I’m starting off with a look at two films I’ve seen recently with very strong and very unusual female main characters. But for now, live, from the Interwebs, it’s the Quiz Of The Week! Take it away, Jaeson!

Continue reading Frightfest part 3: The Quiz Of The Week


Frightfest part 2: Attack Of The Leading Man

As promised, we are subject to a takeover from the mighty (and mightily-bearded) Clive Ashenden, who went above and beyond when I called out for contributions for the X&HT coverage of Frightfest. Over to you, oh my Leading Man…

On Thursday 25th August hundreds of genre pilgrims descended on the Empire Leicester Square for the annual celebration of all that is best in Horror cinema: Film4 Frightfest.

On Monday 29th August after 5 days, 36 films, and numerous short films, trailers, Q&As, interviews, and special events; they staggered back out into the moonless night, pale and red-eyed, and babbling tales of eldritch things and widescreen terrors.

And your humble correspondent was amongst them. A little personal history before we plunge into the dark meat: This is Frightfest’s twelfth year and my tenth as a weekend passholder. In 2005 my horror short “Snatching Time” (co-written by X&HT’s own Rob Wickings) was screened before “Broken”.

Last year the teaser trailer I wrote and directed for “Habeas Corpus” – the horror anthology movie on which (together with Rob, Brendan Lonergan, Simon Aitken [“Blood+Roses”], and Paul Davis [“Beware The Moon”]) I am attached to direct one of the stories – was screened before “Primal”. So I have a long standing connection and love of the biggest and best horror film festival in the UK, as both a filmmaker and horror fan.

Due to the dual screen format of the festival, it wasn’t physically possible to see all of the films shown.  But I managed to catch 24 films, and I’m going to highlight the ten best. So gentle readers, if you feel ready to enter some very dark places, take my clawed hand and I’ll be your guide to the best of Frightfest 2011.

Continue reading Frightfest part 2: Attack Of The Leading Man

Frightfest: The Hit List (part 1)

As any horror fan knows, this Bank Holiday Weekend just past belonged to Frightfest, the biggest, nastiest, loudest and scariest horror film festival in the country, and one of the greatest on the planet. I’d love to tell you all about the shenanigans that went on this year, but due to work commitments I could only pop along for two films. Fortunately, I has contacts. So I asked my buddies in the Corpus Crew to help out.

Today, lists of favourites from Simon Aitken and Brenden Lonergan. Leading Man Clive gets tomorrow all to himself as he’s written a bleedin’ essay, bless his black and twisted little heart. Aaaaanyway.

Simon Aitken, director of Blood And Roses and star of his own X&HT Spotlight, gives us his top five:

5. Troll Hunter
4. Tucker & Dale Vs Evil
3. Rabies
2. Kill List
1. The Innkeepers

Ti West’s haunted house chiller The Innkeepers was genuinely scary. There was a nice build up at the beginning of getting to know the characters and the inn, that when the ghostly goings up started to happen you really cared. Also sent a nice chill up your spine. I highly recommend it.

Brendan Lonergan, special effects guru to the cogniscenti (seriously, look out for his work in John Carter at Christmas, and on a certain highly anticipated prequel/reboot that I’m not sure I can mention), agrees with Simon on his pick of the fest:

The Innkeeper is my number 1 Film. It’s the reason why I love Horror; a great antidote for all of this people skinning people alive and sawing peoples heads off shit (sorry, I’m just really sick of it).

Followed by Tucker and Dale vs Evil.

Third is Final Destination 5.

Saying I enjoyed Kill List would be wrong, a bit like saying you enjoyed Schindlers List. The wrong adjective, but a damned fine movie never the less.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, I liked also. It was nice to see more monster movies this year.

Oh, and I forgot The Woman. A very good movie, but once again, I watch movies for enjoyment, not to be constantly reminded of how shit the world is, you can get that on the news (but that’s just me).

Fright Night was kinda fun, but whenever I think of the original, the remake becomes one big crappy wasted opportunity.

Panic Button was also kind of fun. So I’ve given you my top five, and a couple of extra thrown in for good measure.

There you have it. If you have any thoughts or experiences you’d care to share on this year’s FrightFest, go ahead and comment. Thanks again to Simon and Brendan. Drop by tomorrow for more Frightfesty fun, as Leading Man Clive takes over X&HT!

Friends and Fellow Travellers Update

This is, I should immediately stress, NOT a blog about not blogging. Members of the Readership must be very used to the way I drop off the radar at this time of year, as Nanowrimo starts to loom over the horizon and work in general kicks into high gear. So, no apologies. Business as usual. I do have exciting news. I just can’t quite talk about it yet.

Instead, then, let’s talk about other people’s exciting news. First up, X&HTeam-mate Nick Scott has his short film SNAILS screening this Saturday, October 2nd, at the Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey. It’s a tale of family tragedy and rebellion, and the script is a cracker. NIck’s scripts are always great, but Snails is especially good, and he’s done a lovely job at bringing it to the screen. It’s showing at 4pm, and the Shortwave has an especially good bar.

Meanwhile, Simon Aitken’s Blood + Roses is FINALLY getting some well-deserved love. After it’s success at the Portobello Film Festival (more on that from Simon here) it will be shown at the Cornwall Film Festival this November. This is rather fitting, as the film was shot entirely on location in that lovely county.

But the big news is that Simon will be in Florida between the 8th-10th October, screening Blood + Roses as part of the massive Spooky Empire event. International attention for Blood + Roses is really important, and can only help it get a distribution deal and start making some of that sweet sweet cash. I’m really stoked for Simon. It’s taken a while, but one of the quirkier and more interesting horror films of the past couple of years is finally getting an audience. And as an added bonus, the guest of honour is probably my favourite director, John Carpenter. I’ve already put a request in for an autograph…

And finally, this Thursday, the tallest member of The Corpus Crew, Paul Davis, will be on The Horror Channel, introducing three of his favourite films as part of the Director’s Night. His choices are curious, informed and intriguing. Much like the man himself. There’s an interview with him on the Horror Channel website, which features a nice puff piece for Habeas Corpus. Which is always nice to see.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do … stuff. SEKRIT stuff. Shhhh…

Habeas Corpus at Frightfest, and other good news.

L-R: Clive, Paul, Simon, some idiot, Brendan.

Frightfest is one of the biggest horror film festivals on the planet. For five days around the August Bank Holiday, it serves up an unrelenting feast of movies, Q&As and surprises. Frightfest is all about the terror.

That wasn’t the reason why, on the opening night of the festival at about 9:15, I was as scared as I’d ever been. I was about to walk onto the stage at the Empire, Leicester Square with the rest of the Habeas Corpus Crew and introduce a teaser trailer in front of a packed house of hardcore horror fanatics. You can understand the nervousness.

There’s a hell of a lot of work in that 94 seconds. Although the shoot was only a day and a bit long, there was a week of editing and polishing, probably six weeks of pre-production and an awful lot of tears and heartache before Clive, Simon, Paul, Brendan and I ended up in a nervous huddle underneath a screen that suddenly seemed very big indeed.
I was by far the least involved of the five. I had only been tangentially moved into play towards the end of the process. The other four seemed calm and quietly certain. I felt like I was the only one that was bricking it.

I needn’t have worried. The Coming Soon banner was met with a roar of approval. To be frank, the Frightfest crowd will always respond to a pretty girl licking a zombie. We’re scoping right in on the core needs of our target audience. As fans ourselves, we know what they want.

I want to take a sec just to thank everyone that gave so freely of their time and talent to get our teaser up at Frightfest. From the crew on the day of the shoot, to Marcelo who did a grand job on the sound design, Jon whose music makes the piece, Jaeson for the incredible comic-style imagery, and of course Emily Booth, the best zombie licker in the business.
Guys: here’s to next year!

Finally, some very good news. After a year of graft, knockbacks and heartbreak, Simon has a couple of festival dates for his vampire drama Blood + Roses. He will be screening THIS SATURDAY at the Portobello Film Festival. 3:30 at the Westbourne Studios. That’s free to get in, and I can recommend it on the big screen.

Even cooler, he will be at the Freakshow FilmFest in sunny Orlando, Florida, between the 8-10th of October. This is international recognition for a film that really deserves a wide audience. I couldn’t be happier for Simon. Looks like it’s the start of big things for him!

Big News about Habeas Corpus

Readership, I have been keeping things from you. This is obviously a betrayal of the trust we have built up over the years, and I can only apologise. But I had very good reason. And the time has finally come when I can talk a little about what’s been happening with a project that’s about to take up quite a bit of my time and attention.

Today, I want to talk about Habeas Corpus, the anthology horror I’m making with a lot of my friends and fellow travellers. We’ve all been working hard on the film. My previous announcement that the scripts were just about locked was a bit … well, previous really. Leading Man Clive has come into his own here, making sure that we’re delivering nothing but our best work. The final draft of livedeadgirls is one of my best. Very different to how I originally thought of it, but that’s a good thing. Less angsty. More … horrible.

Obviously, we want to let people know what we’re up to. With that in mind, Team Corpus came up with a super special surprise that we showed at Frightfest, one of the premiere horror festivals on the planet, in London’s glamourous Leicester Square. It’s a 90 second thing, a little standalone teaser that was shot over a long weekend at the end of July. It stars one of our directors, Paul Davis, and in a bit of a casting coup, scream queen and face of British horror Emily Booth. This is a really big deal for us, and it’s great that as horror fans we got to launch our biggest project in front of an audience that’s as committed and passionate about the scene as we are.

You wanna see it, right? Well, here you go.

The reception so far has been really positive, and we’re hoping that Frightfest weekend will give us the kick the project needs to get it properly rolling. For the meantime, you can read more about the project on Dread Central, and here’s a rather nice review of the teaser from Brendon Connolly at Bleeding Cool.

And please, join the Facebook group. Your support will help us to make something that we can all show with pride.

I’ll tell you more about the events of the weekend as it wears on. For now, keep the faith, Readership.