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Arrow Video FrightFest 2018: Day 3 – Book of Monsters, Heretiks, Chuck Steel, What Keeps You Alive and Upgrade

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Heyyy, we’re still flashing back to my adventures at Arrow Video FrightFest 2018 and are now up to Day Three. You can catch up on the previous hijinx here, but “today” we’re checking out Book of Monsters, Heretiks, Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, What Keeps You Alive and Upgrade.

I started the day by popping into the Cineworld to see a man about a dog but instead got proper spooked by nefarious nun Valak from The Conjuring 2 and The Nun. She was just stood halfway up the stairs with her back to a black wall blending in and as I clocked her in a double take my heart was in my ruddy mouth.

After that thrill ride of a start to the day, I knew it was going to be a good ‘un as I nipped back around the corner to The Prince Charles Cinema for the world premiere of Book of Monsters.

Book of Monsters was lovingly made over two years by director Stewart Sparke and his partner/star Lyndsey Craine and it shows. Sophie and her friends have big plans for her 18th birthday party – as soon as her sweet overprotective dad with a heart of gold (Hellraiser’s Chatterer cenobite: Nicholas Vince) is out the door. Unfortunately, it doesn’t all go to plan when a gang of monsters descend onto their isolated country house and try to rip them and their schoolmates to pieces. The girls don’t let this stand and get tooled up to kill the creepy creatures first.

Book of Monsters is terrific fun and a total crowd pleaser. The non-CGI creatures look brilliant and the designs are fantastic, including a hideous wendigo, a saucy shapeshifter, and a trio of bloodthirsty gnomes – who were my favourite. A practical FX paradise that is also jammed full of Spaced-style humour and huge fountains of blood, I hope we get more in the form of a sequel or a TV show very soon and will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Sparke gets up to next.


Check out all of our FrightFest coverage

Heretiks was up next, back in the main screen at the Cineworld, but right before it started FrightFest founder and all-round legend Alan Jones appeared to tell us that first we were to be treated to a ten-minute portion of upcoming Bad Robot war horror movie: Overlord.

Overlord

It started with an Allied soldier guarding a tied-up German. The Nazi gets loose and shoots him before the rest of the company take him down. One of the Allies takes a syringe full of something red and shakily injects his deceased friend with it. After a few moments, the body reanimates and rises – insisting he feels fine. He is not fine, there is movement under his skin and his limbs and head seem to be detaching and reattaching beneath his skin before his head falls all the way back and his jaw opens up impossibly wide. Everyone freaks out and a skirmish ensues, before the footage segued into the material from the trailer.

The effects were amazing and this one looks like it could be something very special – with a signature bad Robot secret: is it a stealth Cloverfield prequel? Are they all in hell? We’ve got the trailer and new-new poster over here if you want to over-analyse them and make your own prediction.

THEN it was Heretiks, a Paul Hyett (The Seasoning House) film about a group of nuns fighting for their souls in a creepy castle. Another Hellraiser alumni – Claire Higgins (evil Julia) – plays a brutal mother superior intent on keeping the convent isolated and her charges “safe”.

A great opening scene sees Higgins facing down a Witchfinder General Michael Ironside to take a suspected witch into her care instead of putting her to the stake, and the atmosphere throughout is almost physically palatable: you can almost feel the cold emanating from the crumbling walls, as candles flicker and the young nuns scamper around avoiding evil; but the story is loose and hard to follow, and it all feels stretched and strung out.

 

Michael Morts’ Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires played after lunch, and if everyone was feeling a bit full and sleepy, the ensuing plasticine absurd lunacy blew away the cobwebs – and probably the first three row.

Chuck is a homicide detective on the edge, whose bottling up of the grief from his wife’s demise at the hand of a ninja overlord has made me even more of an unhinged powder keg. Teaming up with a knock-off Van Helsing, Chuck must destroy a gang of vampire monsters before they infect the entire city.

Aardman with an Uzi and an attitude, CHUCK STEEL: NIGHT OF THE TRAMPIRES is the hilarious greatest stop-motion 80s loose cannon cop action horror movie never made due to budgetary restrictions.; and with voice work by Jennifer Saunders and Paul Whitehouse, and Chuck’s unmistakeable Johnny Bravo on steroids vocals provided by Mort himself, Chuck Steel is a very cheeky blast from start to finish.

 

 

What Keeps You Alive features the star and director of It Stains the Sand Red, and is a thrilling entry into survival horror canon.

Jackie and Jules (Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen) head off to Jackie’s family cabin in the woods to celebrate their first anniversary, but shortly after arrival Jules starts to notice that something is… off.

Jules is acting strangely, and an encounter with an old friend reveals further odd, dark – potentially deadly – secrets. There is no way that I am going to spoil what goes down because the surprises, twists and turns are two-thirds of the fun, but What Keeps You Alive will keep you on the edge of your seat with your eyes and mouth wide open for its duration.

Anderson is truly, truly chilling while Allen shows again that she is a fantastically identifiable-with survivor, and the rowboat chase scene is one of my favourite moments of the entire festival.

 

Upgrade. FINALLY. UPGRADE. I had been absolutely bursting to see this one for months and was finally going to get to see it on an enormous screen, flipping loud, with a q and a with director Leigh Whannell (Insidious Chapter 3) after, and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

Grey Trace (yes, seriously) (Logan Marshall-Green) is a muscle car mechanic who hates all the fancy future gadgets and self-driving cars and likes to do everything old school. But when is his wife is gunned down and he is left paralysed, he turns to a revolutionary computer chip enhancement to get him back on his feet – and on the trailer of his missus’s killers.

STEM is a bug-looking bit of tech that bridges the gap between Grey brain and his body, but he soon discovers that it is more of a he, and can do a lot more than previously advertised. Stem can see and hear everything that Grey can and analyse it looking for clues – which makes tracking down his wife’s murderers easier; it can also take full control of Grey’s body and completely optimally fight for him – which makes KILLING his wife’s murderers easier.

These fight scenes are genuinely game-changing and like nothing you have ever seen before. Under Stem’s control, Grey fights as a computer would – with increased speed, no wasted movement or energy and looking to inflict as much damage as possible. It is extremely exciting to see, and, coupled with a dark unflinching almost noir narrative, makes Leigh Whannell’s brutal biomechanical blockbuster is an unmissable slice of sci-fi action horror.

Another great day of all kinds of different awesome things was over, and Day 4 looked like a great one too with The Man Who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot, Bodied. Terrified and Tigers Are Not Afraid to look forward to. You can catch up on not just 2018 days 1 to 3, but all our coverage EVER at our handy-dandy dedicated FrightFest section right here.

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