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Arrow Video FrightFest 2018: Day 2 – Dead Night, Puppet Master, The Most Assassinated Woman in the World and more

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So, yesterday we covered the opening day of Arrow Video FrightFest 2018 with festival openers Summer of 84 and The Ranger – which you can check it out here if you need to catch up – but Day 2 was when shiz started to get real with four films and an interview squeezed into my spooky schedule.

The interview was first and saw me get ten minutes to chat to the lovely Chloe Levine – who stars in The Ranger as Chelsea. I’ll sort that one out for next week, but in the meantime just know that she was very cool and full of great stories about the making of The Ranger and how awesome Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) is, as well as spilling the beans on what film she would like to star in the remake of, and what movie monster she would want to be killed by. Director Jenn Wexler was around too, and they were both kind enough to sign that barf bag I was given at the screening the day before.

After that, I hustled from Bloomsbury back to Leicester Square, for my first film of the festival at The Prince Charles Cinema. As well as two big screens and one little one in the beautiful and futuristic Cineworld, FrightFest also had taken over both screens in The PCC for the long weekend too.

I had a couple of interesting smaller films lined up to check out over there in the next few days but first off was something called Final Stop.

Writer and director Roxanne Benjamin uses a carefully created soundscape to conjure a thrilling atmosphere, with ear-stunning audio recorded using Sennheiser’s AMBEO SMARTHEADSET. The result is a gripping 3D audio thriller centred around a woman’s paranoid commute home surrounded by noisy weirdos while a killer is on the loose that could be the future of cinema audio.

The sound is incredibly sharp and immersive and perfect for horror. Also, although the social element of the cinema experience is retained in that you are all sat together, once you put your fancy pants headphones on you are totally immersed in your own film world with zero crisp packet, chatter, mobile phone distractions intruding on your experience. It’s very cool, and I would love to see an entire film like this. Check it out for yourself on YouTube and see (hear) what you think for yourself.

The Sennheiser folk were all very clever and nice and after giving us a pair of earphones to keep invited the whole audience up to the posh 10th floor bar above Leicester Square for a drink and some canapes. It was crazy swish, and even the busker-filled hellscape of modern Leicester Square seemed pretty and peaceful from so far above it all.

But I needed to get back down into the madness – next up was soft reboot Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich.

Go easy on me for not being too well versed in the pre-existing franchise, but the new Puppet Master is written by genius S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) and recasts the stabby little blighters as Nazis. Constructed by a joyously OTT Udo Kier, the sadistic fascist puppets descend on a hotel to merrily slaughter any Non-Aryan residents.

The resulting film is the most gleefully gory and un-PC thing ever, with unforgettable Brain Dead level kills and wonderfully designed devious little murderous marionettes. As well as the shocking murders, Barbara Crampton (Reanimator, You’re Next) also shows up as a serious and trigger-happy. It’s often fun, but mostly a bit uncomfortable with homosexual, Jewish and Romany people making up the insanely high bodycount and the legend Fabio Frizzi (City of the Living Dead) providing a score that sounds cool but also seems to be for a completely different film.

 

The Most Assassinated Woman in the World was up next. A sexy and smokey French thriller about an actress at the Grand Guignol theatre. “Murdered” on stage every night, and twice on a Sunday, she is receiving threatening notes from a fan who wants to kill her FOR REAL who may also be a currently-on-the-loose Jacques the Ripper, and has just fallen in love with a reporter who is being followed by his last partner’s husband who wants him dead.

The on-stage sequences are fascinating and then seeing how they were created as long as the backstage hijinx is a lot of gory fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the time – even with all the potential thrills the setup promises – it feels slow and lazily done. This isn’t aided any by an ending with a very obvious twist that goes on for way too long assuming you didn’t figure it all out ten minutes ago.

Lastly, Barbara Crampton was back for more in Dead Night: an outlandish and offbeat riff on the cabin in the woods set up from the producers of John Dies At The End and Phantasm: Ravager.

Dead Night

As well as Crampton, Dead Night features her You’re Next co-star AJ Bowen as a man dying of cancer who travels to the cabin with his family to try and take advantage of the area’s supposed healing properties. He actually starts to feel a little better until a mysterious and enigmatic woman (Crampton) turns up one night and turns the family getaway upside down.

It would suck of me to talk too much about what goes down, but if you like the sound of a cabin in the woods movie with Ash as a badass Axe Mom and a scene-chewing-and-stealing Barbara Crampton as the Republican candidate for Queen of the deadites you will enjoy this one as much as I did.

Four movies might seem excessive, but the next three days were going to be five-film-a-day days – FrightFest 2018 was about to go off. And I couldn’t wait. For Day 3 I had 80s style effects movie Book of Monsters, nuns on a hellmouth in Heretiks, plasticine action hero Chuck Steel, more cabin in the woods shenanigans in What Keeps You Alive and motherflipping Upgrade lined up.

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