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Live for Films at FrightFest 2016: Day 3

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And so it was Day Three already – the halfway point – but certainly no saggy slump. After extolling the virtues of Pet to everyone all night and morning (my dogs are super keen to see it now), I was ready for MORE. For the the third day I had some leaps between the main screen and the smaller Discovery Screens that would see me check out Dougray Scott vs. zombies, the first short film showcase, some Big-Bang body horror, and a French haunted house.

THE REZORT

the rezort

The Rezort stars Dougray Scott (MI:II and Twin Town) and is directed by the man behind the Outpost franchise: Steve Barker.

Following the human race’s triumph over a zombie virus seven years ago, an island resort has been set up where you can go and hunt the undead for funsies – like Jurassic Park for zombies. We follow a group of holiday makers that include tough nut expert marksman Archer (Scott), and a young woman whose psychiatrist has recommended the trip as a way of her tackling the survivors guilt she suffers from (Jessica De Gouw).

After an initial fun night of partying and a day of capping dead heads for kicks, a hacker opens the park gates and all hell breaks loose. The zombie make-up effects are good, the gore is perfectly serviceable, and there are some good kills – just nothing as iconic or grand guignol as you would expect in a zombie picture.

Scott is clearly having a whale of a time, and plays the whole thing completely straight, channeling Muldoon from Jurassic Park, growling out one liners, and constantly saving the day. Having been a fan of his for a while, getting to see him kick this much ass is highly enjoyable, and he is ably backed by the very good De Gouw – whose Melanie has to get over being conflicted about killing the zombies very quickly.

Good, solid Saturday morning fun, The Rezort fully embraces its B-movie status providing a lively blast of blood and brains, alongside some unexpectedly heart string snipping stuff in the finale. I very much hope to see another one of these, with more Dougray Scott embracing his inner Quint.

The Rezort does not currently have a UK release date.

3.5-out-of-5

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 1

I flipping love short films. It takes an awful lot of skill to convey a full story in a short amount of time, as well as being punchy, clever or cool enough to leave an impression in a few brief minutes. I wrote one myself a few years ago that did well in a Fangoria competition, and seeing seven crackers this afternoon made me want to do another.

GWILLIAM is directed by Brian Lonano and stars William Tokarsky – the killer from the insanely good Too Many Cooks. An ex-con goes looking for a good time upon release, only to get a back alley BJ from a creature who looks like a cross between Basket Case and a monster from Ghoulies. Gwilliam is very funny and very gross, with rad Enter the Void closing credits.

CONNIE tells the story of a quiet girl who wants to be a stand-up comedian. After choking on her own she gets a ventriloquist’s puppet, showgirl Connie, to speak for her. The pair become stars but Connie wants more. Star Catrin Stewart impressively plays two parts AND puppeteers the doll with the dirty mouth in a short that feels too long, and like the jokes need a final polish.

BLIGHT is directed by Christopher Goodman. An Inspector calls on an AWOL park ranger to find he has locked his wife and daughter away… for good reason. The set dressing and practical monster effects here are quite, quite excellent – but the sound effects need beefing up, as some weedy gun shots and a very quiet padlock breaking noise let the side down.

THE STYLIST is directed by Jill Gervazigian, and stars Najarra Townsend. This was by far the classiest cut of the bunch, and that it aims to be a full feature is no surprise and completely understandable. Gervagian’s direction is immaculate, and Townsend’s performance is scary, grim and sad all at once. A female Sweeney Todd, scalping her clientele so she can try out their hair, The Stylist brought to mind Maniac, and had great make-up effects as well as Pepper – the cutest dog of FrightFest.

NECK AND NECK is an experimental Shakespearean animation riffing on Othello’s murder of Desdemona under the influence of Iago. Simple, hand drawn and strangely beautiful.

THE GARDEN is from Natalia Lyudin and tells the story of Luc – a young girl who lives in a castle courtyard who does not want to be “upgraded” to be able to survive in a dystopian wasteland. Luc is a Mad Maxified ballet dancer and in six minutes this film crams in conjecture on the nature of the self, as well as a gorgeous ballet dance off and a kicking score.

BOW WOW BOW, from director Ayako Fujitani, follows an office worker for a few days as his home life disintegrates and he sleep walks through work, before perhaps finding the answer in a man who pleads his forgiveness on the street. Bow Wow Bow is a long wait for a good gag, with impressive cinematography.

THE MASTER CLEANSE

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Starring Johnny Galecki (Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory), Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies), Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) and Oliver Platt (Lake Placid), The Master Cleanse is written and directed by Bobby Miller.

Galecki is our recently single and unemployed lead who attends a suspiciously free retreat in the middle of nowhere to rid his mind and body of negative toxins, and get his life back on track. Friel is the both tough and fragile Maggie – whom he obviously falls instantly in love with, while Houston and Platt are the terrifyingly calm runners of the ‘Get Pure’ programme.

After drinking disgusting juices for a few days, our heroes expel all their negative gunk. All the bad begins to form a creature that grows over the days, mimics it’s masters behaviour, and wins their hearts by being ridiculously cute. The creature effects on the ‘cleanse monsters’ is stunning and they range from being insanely loveable to downright scary.

Friel and Galecki’s chemistry is good, Houston is (duh) great, and a late show from Platt brings the emotion and cuts to the bone of things. The Master Cleanse is odd and wonderful, strangely sweet body horror, and I would like my own ‘cleanse monster’ right now, please.

5-out-of-5
BEYOND THE WALLS

beyond the walls

Popping back to a Discovery Screen being run that day by the wonderful Duke Mitchell Film Club on a quest for something a bit different, I ended up not viewing a film but binge watching a French mini series. A three-part TV show, Au dela des murs stars Veerle Baetens, Francois Deblock, and also features the legendary Geraldine Chapman (Doctor Zhivago) for two episodes too.

Lisa (Baetens) is a loner speech therapist who one day discovers she has inherited the (clearly haunted) house across the street, after it’s previous owner is discovered to have been sat dead in an armchair after thirty years. Lisa moves in and begins to renovate and investigate, but when she breaks through a wall investigating a scratching sound she finds a mysterious tunnel and door.

The door leads her to an infinite expansion of the house: a labyrinth where no two rooms are the same and you can walk for days without going in the same room twice. While wandering she is menaced by a shambling figure with a hogs head. Following a narrow escape she meets Julien (Deblock), a first world war soldier who has been trapped in the house for three years. The two team up to search for the mysterious red door – there only escape – while pursued by The Others.

In look and in structure, Beyond the Walls is architecturally amazing: a brilliant gallic haunted house show full of puzzles, mysteries and monsters.

4-out-of-5

Beyond the Walls may be available to view on the new horror streaming site, SHUDDER, soon. You can sign up for a free trial here.

THE LOVE WITCH

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The Love Witch was not originally on my radar, but after it being flagged to me by a couple of FrightFest friends whose opinions I trust I scraped the last ticket to another Discovery Screen gem.

Written, produced, directed, edited, scored, set dressed and sewn by auteur Anna Biller, The Love Witch is lovingly and painstakingly designed and made to look like an exploitation film from the 70’s.

LOVE WITCH TRAILER from Anna Biller on Vimeo.

Elaine (Samantha Robinson) is a witch looking for love. She finds it easy to seduce men with her massive milk chocolate tractor beam eyes and utilisation of “sex magick” – but something always seems to go wrong leaving her broken hearted and frustrated. After her latest suitor dies on her due to having a heart attack brought on by her sex magick, and simply loving her too much, Elaine finds herself pursued – criminally and romantically – by a square-jawed cop who may be the one.

Full of humour, sex, and tea and cake, The Love Witch is a fun and feisty feminist film that constantly titillates, provokes and pleases, but at times it can also be overly indulgent and is too lengthy. The only clues to the film’s true age are one modern BMW and a single use of a mobile phone, and Biller’s hard work and devotion is as impressive as it is magnificent. Samantha Robinson is simply spellbinding, and with The Love Witch Anna Biller has conjured up a buxom, garish and fabulous throwback that it is hard to believe is not 45 years old.

4.5-out-of-5

The Love Witch does not currently have a UK release date.

And that was Saturday done. Big, great day, and another lined up for tomorrow. FrightFest is hosting some panels for the first time this year, so I thought it would be fun to check out the two on ‘Women in Genre’ and the ‘Special FX Demo’, Plus, in the morning I am going to see the documentary on one of my favourite films: An American Werewolf in London.

Check out our FrightFest coverage.

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