glasgow frightfest 2018

Horror Channel Frightfest Glasgow 2018 round-up

Written by Becky Roberts

The 13th Glasgow Frightfest was indeed unlucky for some. As enough snow to build the entire cast of the Friday the 13th franchise out of was dumped on Glasgow last week, this year’s February Frightfest weekend was a horror show even before the first film began.

But as (most of) us hardy Frightfest folk and the dedicated staff of the Glasgow Film Theatre persisted through the red weather warning, the three days of horror and haggis commenced as planned.

Fittingly, 13 films were scheduled to grace the screen at the Glasgow Film Theatre (although the late night screening of The Lodgers succumbed to the Beast from the East), all kicking off on a cold, whiteout Thursday evening with Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s big screen adaptation of their supernatural stage play, Ghost Stories

ghost stories poster

Ghost Stories

Eight years after its inaugural run as a theater production, Ghost Stories gave the audience the chills they definitely didn’t need (but did appreciate). It follows Professor Philip Goodman (Nyman) – a renowned sceptic of the paranormal – in his exploration of three unexplained cases, and thanks to the almost instinctual transition of the show’s intense theatrics to the screen, and a cleverly binding overriding plot arc, it succeeds as an exhilarating exercise in terror.


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Friendly Beast

Luciana Paes delivers the festival’s most dedicated performance in Gabriela Amaral Almeida’s tastefully deranged Brazilian shocker about the depths of human desperation and animalistic impulses arising from societal expectation. When a robbery is attempted at a troubled restaurant, its turbulent owner (Murilo Benício) seizes the opportunity to restore his establishment’s pecking order in what becomes an uncomfortably violent, sexually deviant and table-turning power struggle. With a scintillating score that has the devastating power to cement some of its most unnerving scenes in your mind, Friendly Beast is one you’re forced to take home with you.


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Tigers Are Not Afraid

No doubt the biggest take away from Glasgow Frightfest this year was Issa Lopez’ tenacious and touching debut genre film, which reflects the real-life terrors of the Mexican drug war through five children’s inexplicable everyday struggle. An overwhelming and uncompromising powerful social statement that flirts with the fantastical through a mesmerizing stream of magical realism, Lopez’ eye-opening drama could well end 2018 Frightfest as the must-see film on this year’s festival circuit.


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Secret Santa

Well, we did have the weather for it… In the same no-holds-barred horror-comedy spirit as recent festive favourites Better Watch Out and Red Christmas, Secret Santa brings terror and slapstick to the tradition - this time to The Pope family, whose Christmas Eve dinner turns into a riotous reunion and blood-doused splatterfest thanks to the misappropriation of carving knifes and snowglobes, and a devastating side effect of a truth-telling punch.


the wanderers quest for the demon hunter poster

The Wanderers: The Quest of The Demon Hunter

Director Dragos Buliga covers a lot of religious and mythological ground in this Romanian horror, in which world-famous demon hunter Louis (Armand Assante), an Israeli journalist and Korean television reality TV crew head to Transylvania’s Zalesky Castle to investigate a mysterious serial killing. But despite an eerie premise and animated Assante, the most coherent moments at its start and end bookend what is perhaps an overly ambitious effort that ultimately comes across as convoluted and tonally torn.


attack of the bat monsters poster

Attack of the Bat Monsters

Almost two decades after it was shot by writer/director Graham Kelly Greene, Attack of the Bat Monsters has been finally unleashed thanks to its loving restoration by Mark Rance (who refurbished Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells in 2010). A ‘behind the scenes look’ at the making of a 1950s B movie, as a crew attempts to shoot an entire feature in the three days left over after the film they’ve just wrapped, Green’s charming pastiche is an abundantly amusing and narratively watertight love letter to sci-fi lore and low budget fare, with Michael Dalmon its starlight.


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The Ravenous (Les affamés)

While hardly venturing unchartered territory, French-Canadian post-apocalyptic indie drama The Ravenous compels through the narrow focus of its self-contained human survival story. It carries enough intrigue throughout and, with genuine moments of humour as well placed as those of sincerity, has you rooting more for these unlikely survivors than most others.


cold skin poster

Cold Skin

Director Xavier Gens (Frontiers, The Divide) furthers his diverse catalogue with a moving Lovecraftian creature feature based on Albert Sanchez Piñol's Spanish novel. An allegorical war tale in which a young wanderer (David Oakes) takes on the position of a weather observer on a desolate island, only to find himself and lighthouse keeper Gruner (Ray Stevenson) in a territorial battle against mysterious sea beasts, Cold Skin has the allure of a dark Del Toro-like fantasy – visually beautiful and with as much heart as horror.


the blacksmith and the devil

The Blacksmith and the Devil (Errementari)

A visually ravishing and consistently chucklesome Basque folklore fantasy set ten years after the Spanish Civil War, The Blacksmith and the Devil sees a blacksmith’s dark secret accidentally unearthed by an orphan girl (Uma Bracaglia). Its satirical wit, charm and wicked slapstick humour – all the more surprising within its deep-rooted mythological and historical context – takes audiences on a fun-filled journey to the gates of hell and back again, and sheds light on an alternative use for chickpeas…


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Primal Rage

With director Patrick McGee’s SFX background in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that his directorial debut shows a lot of monster. Indeed, his creatively designed and well-executed crossbar-wielding Sasquatch is the star on the screen as it toyfully terrorizes two lost locals in a forest in Native American territory. A middling monster movie with a satisfying body count and imaginative deaths, best suited for late night fare.


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With the title’s ambiguity enough to draw you in, and the film’s initial suspense and sinister supposition to keep you there, Pyewacket (about an angsty teen who performs an occult ritual to kill her mother) presents a curious mother-daughter strain, toys with black magic and blurs reality and fantasy to entertaining effect, but loses its magneticism by yielding to clichéd tropes and an underwhelming conclusion.


sixty minutes to midnight poster

Sixty Minutes to Midnight

Glasgow Frightfest went out with a thousand bangs thanks to Neil Mackay’s low-budget homage to the ‘90s gun action films. On the eve of the millennium, middle-aged, down-and-out war veteran (Robert Nolan) is involuntarily cast into a depraved reality TV show where he’s forced to fight off an hour-long home invasion to win a million dollars... and the right to stay alive. While serving as an evocative throwback to the likes of The Running Man and Die Hard, well carried by Nolan, it’s mostly a mindless massacre that’ll find most fandom with gun nuts.


About The Author
Becky Roberts
Staff Writer
Becky has devoured horror and grown particularly interested in Foreign and Asian genre films (and has written a 12,000 word dissertation on it if anyone's up for a bit of light reading!) She is now a blogger of horrorble films and a journalist, and reviews and reports on horror in nine tenths of her spare time. It is no lie that she enjoys the events with free drinks the most.
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