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It's on. Maybe a 5.45am start for work wasn't the best idea when I was going to be hitting Film4 Frightfest that evening, but hey, you gotta earn a living, right? With the bags packed and the train booked, my work morning was possibly the slowest ever. Inevitably though, the time came to make the annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of all things horror in the UK. London is its usual self, crowded, hot and sweaty, although I'm starting to get a bit of affection for the old girl. Not the prices though.

 

Accommodation just five minutes from the cinema means that everything is handy, and no need to get night buses after the final film of the evening. As 6.30pm and the opening feature of The Dead 2: India loomed, I headed over to The Empire to admire the, now familiar, throng of assorted horror fans in every shape and variety. The usual buzz of excitement filled Screen One as we took our seats, and as is becoming customary, a special guest gave an opening introduction to the four Frightfest organisers. The special guest in question was Bobcat Goldthwait, who you will no doubt remember as "the dude with the really odd voice from Police Academy". Well, he's now a film director, his feature Willow Creek showing over the weekend, and a bit of a stand-up comedian to boot. Nowhere near as riotous as Ross Noble last year, but a fun start to proceedings.

 

After a quick Turn Your Bloody Phone Off ident, we were into The Dead 2: India...

 

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And it was like someone put the fun brake on. I can't really imagine what inspired the choice to make this a festival opener. Usually we get something hard hitting or energetic at least, but The Dead 2 is neither of these. While its predecessor had a funky retro feel to it with the ultra-slow shuffling zombies evoking a feeling of Fulci's tropical island, the sequel is pretty much the same thing in a different setting. Some stunning cinematography in places and some really dodgy camerawork in others. It's slow and plodding, with very little to keep the viewer interested. A couple of strong scenes come in nearer the end, but by that time it's way too late. When your protagonists can be outrun by a brisk stroll, then they're really nothing to worry about, unless you pin yourself into a building or compound that offers no means of escape (as the characters frequently do).

 

twostars



 

 

 

 

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Thankfully, the pace was picked up considerably with Curse of Chucky. The Child's Play franchise is one I'm vaguely familiar with, having caught a couple of the early films some years ago. They're a strange bunch of films that just sit on the outskirts of my radar, and the only reason they stick there is due to the scapegoating of Child's Play 3 in the James Bulger murder in the UK in 1993 when tabloid hysteria tried to blame that film for the death of a child. Hopefully we're all a bit more grown up now and able to enjoy such delights as Curse of Chucky. It follows the standard Chucky story, with the eponymous doll being delivered to a new family - murder and mayhem then ensues. I did wonder whether the film would be too steeped in Child's Play lore for me to enjoy, but it works extremely well as a standalone film except for a couple of scenes towards the end which are referential to previous movies. It's smart, funny and incredibly gory, this being the world premiere of the uncensored version. Looking back on the film now, it's far more in the spirit of Frightfest than The Dead 2 is and it would have made for a much better opening film.

 

fourstars



 

 

 

 

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While I was looking forward to You're Next, its start time was some 17 hours after I first woke up so I was expecting no nod off for at least half of it. No such problem, once this kicks off it holds the attention completely. It could have so easily been just another home invasion movie, had it not been for some sharp scripting by Simon Barrett and direction by Adam Wingard. A wealthy family gets together for a holiday weekend at their remote mansion, with assorted significant others in tow. During their first night dinner, and a bit of a family brouhaha, a crossbow bolt comes hurtling through the window and takes out one boyfriend (cameo appearance for Ti West) sending the rest into a blind panic. But what the assailants don't realise is that one diner, Erin (Sharni Vinson) has a particular set of skills; skills that will make her a nightmare to people like them, she will find them and she will... yeah wrong movie, but you get the idea. It's so refreshing to see a film that doesn't subscribe the the "I'll bonk him on the head once and hope he doesn't get up again. In the background, while I'm doing something else." When Erin gets the upper hand on any of the assailants she really goes for it. Ain't no-one getting up from that. Excellent high note to end the evening on. More of this kind of thing please.

 

fourstars



 

 

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Say hello to my little friend. HorrorTalk's Sharon Davies has a fangirl moment with Curse of Chucky director Don Mancini and star Fiona Dourif. And Chucky himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daniel Benson

 

 

About The Author
Daniel Benson
UK Editor / Webmaster
Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.
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