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15 Best Films I Saw At FrightFest

Starring: George Buza, William Shatner, Zoé De Grand Maison, Jeff Clarke
Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan

Anthology of four interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, sewn together by a hard-drinking festive radio host (Shatner): A family chopping down a Christmas tree accidentally bring back a changeling instead of their son, a student documentary in the bowels of a university building awakens a ghost, Krampus the anti-Santa hunts down a family of sinners, while an axe-wielding Santa has to deal with his elves becoming zombies in the North Pole… From the team behind the ‘Ginger Snaps’ trilogy. Unlike ‘Tales of Halloween’ there isn’t a weak link here, the Santa story is the highlight while the teens in the basement is the most generic, but they’re all effective and tie together well. By limiting it to four stories instead of ten, and cross-cutting between them, it feels pacey and each has enough room to breathe. It’s all very entertaining. Shatner is a national treasure.

Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman
Director: Jason Lei Howden

New loner in town Brodie and bad-boy Zakk quickly bond over their mutual admiration of heavy metal. When Zakk takes them to break into the home of their metal-thrashing icon they end up with a satanic verse which, when they unwittingly perform it as a song, turns the neighbours into demonically-possessed maniacs and summons an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One… New Zealanders are the reining kings of comedy-horror with ‘What We Do In The Shadows’, ‘Housebound’ and now this. It’s little surprise that this is directed by a special fx artist who worked under the man who started the NZ tradition, Peter Jackson. Thankfully ‘Deathgasm’ is not the Rob Zombie metalhead depiction, rather it’s closer to Bill & Ted. The possessed monsters are copied wholesale from ‘Evil Dead 2’, but it’s done so well it feels like a welcome sequel. ‘Deathgasm’ sports inventive gore, thoroughly likeable characters, and razor sharp comic timing.

Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside
Directors: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

In a post apocalyptic 1997, an orphaned teenager goes on a wasteland adventure to save his female companion from the hands of an evil warlord who controls the only water supply. This is one long tribute to 80s/90s kid culture, a loving pastiche of Mad Max, Tron, Indiana Jones, BMX movies and more. If that notion appeals to you, you’ll have a great time. What really makes it work is the sweet relationship at its center between Turbo Kid and the eternally upbeat Apple, his sorta girlfriend. She is a big scene-stealer, giving perhaps the most joyful performance of the year. Also involved is sci-fi icon Michael Ironside (‘Robocop’, ‘Total Recall’) executing victims in creative ways and relishing being back on major bad guy duties. There’s a lot of gore throughout, used comedically, it’s the most inventive use of body dismemberment since ‘Dead Snow 2’.


Starring: Naomi Battrick, Anna Walton, Sam Hazeldine
Director: David Keating

15 year old Faith’s world is turned upside down when she discovers her beloved father is dying of lukemia. Then her mysterious hockey coach Sissy offers her a way out – carry a baby for her centuries-old witches’ coven and she’ll use the fruit of their ancient cherry tree to cure him. But you can’t trust a magical hag and when the baby starts growing at an alarming rate and the impact on humanity becomes clear, Faith will have to make a stand… From the director of 2010’s ‘Wake Wood’. The FrightFest opening night film was also one of the most mediocre, a shade above amateur. Acting was average to bad, particularly the villainous witch who gets a lot of screen time but is uncomfortably wooden. The lead actress (from TV’s ‘Crossing Lines’) did have screen presence but isn’t well directed – when a character first announces they worship the Devil it should get some sort of reaction. Special fx were often executed quite poorly. Has there been a good Devil pregnancy movie since ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?

Starring: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Monte Markham, Lisa Marie
Director: Ted Geoghegan

After their teenage son is killed in a car crash, Anne (Barbara Crampton, ‘Re-Animator’, ‘You’re Next’) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) move to the quiet New England countryside to try to start a new life for themselves. But the grieving couple unknowingly becomes the prey of a family of vengeful Frontier spirits that reside in their new home… Heavily inspired by Lucio Fulci (‘House By The Cemetery’), who has plenty of bad points, and 70s ghost horror, this is fatally misconceived, unable to decide if it wants to be spoof or serious. Because the humour is often too subtle and inconsistent the clanging lines just make it seem like an bad movie. Other than that it’s slow, boring, unfrightening and little happens. The only upside is the villain’s fairly entertaining line delivery. If you want to see this idea done right, watch fake trailer ‘Don’t’ by Edgar Wright, it covers far more ground in 88 seconds.

Which of these are you excited to see when they come out? Did you go to FrightFest this year? Let us know in the comments.

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  • dnwilliams said

    Really want to see TURBO KID.

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  • gd smith said

    I like We Are Still Here. Good Soundtrack, some nice effects and my childhood crush Barbra Compton looking good in a Helen Mirren sort of way. Also Lucio Fulci didn’t have loads of bad points. He made awesome movies, Manhattan Baby, New York Ripper, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery all had bags of style, great cinematography, gore o plenty and great set pieces. He was up there with Bava, James Whale, John Carpenter and William Friedkin as far as I’m concerned. Also James Wan owes a very obvious debt. RIP Wes Craven and Roddy Piper.

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  • Onion said

    First of all, thanks for checking all of this out for us, and even getting some off-screen blood on yourself in the process, which I’m sure wasn’t as amusing as the on-screen kind.
    Well some of the movies sound like another 90 minutes of sleep would have been more worth your while, some seem very intriguing. Your reviews – or previews – certainly make me curious to find out about all of them.
    Some Kind of Hate strongly reminds me of the mother of all teenage ghost horror, the Wishing Stairs / Voice / Memento Mori trilogy from – where else – Japan. It’s usually an all girls affair, so let’s see how this really quite awkward male character pulls it off.
    I only knew Sarah Bolger from the Tudors ages ago and had to look up even that, but I remembered her striking doll’s face straight away and I’m looking forward to seeing her as a bad girl.
    Demonic seems like a mashup of so many movies of that kind you’ve seen before, from Grave Encounters to Sinister, you name it. It’ll be a pleasant surprise if there really will be any truly new ring to it.
    And Jeruzalem gives you those totally archaic monsters, so ancient and solemn it’s already refreshing.
    There is some seriously mature cheese around in my opinion as well and I usually need someone to persuade me into watching before I can savour it – but with a knitting lady by my side I’ll give even Deathgasm a chance!

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      Thanks for the feedback Onion, hope you’re well wherever you are, let’s say Germany. Yes Sarah Bolger is great in that role, although she should not babysit again and she is upstaged by a hamster. Fair warning, I liked Demonic more than pretty much anyone else, but I’m ok with that. It’s not fantastic or essential but more competent than it’s given credit for. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy Deathgasm, but it definitely puts laughs ahead of any frights, it’s Evil Dead 2 for metalheads. The things I enjoyed most about Jeruzalem were the sense of place and the way it utilised Google Glass, it’s no classic but has enough original elements going on to recommend.

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