Frightfest: The Opening Night

Frightfest's a real epic this year: no less than five days of pulse-pounding madness. Last night was a fun opener.

First up was Black Sheep, a New Zealand entry fully aware of its own ludicrousness, given the premise of killer sheep on the rampage. As good-humoured writer/director Jonathan King said from the stage before lights went down for the opening titles, "What you'll see here is a documentary. It's all real. New Zealand is a very dangerous place and you should not go there". What followed was a funny combination of Peter Jackson's early movies, An American Werewolf In London and Re-Animator. I especially enjoyed the one-off sight of a sheep going off the edge of a cliff, while at the wheel of a truck. It hits UK cinemas on October 12.

Black Water continued both the Antipodean and killer-creature theme, being an Aussie killer-croc film. As Wolf Creek director Greg Mclean is also delivering a croc movie named Rogue, it'll be interesting to see how these compare. I enjoyed Black Water's deadly-serious approach to three travellers getting cornered by a saltwater croc, with all the lashings of suspense and dread which naturally ensued. There was the nagging feeling that more could have been done with the characters' relationships, and the premise didn't entirely stretch to keep the running time thrilling throughout. But I liked these people, and didn't want them to end up as croc-fodder. Which is an achievement in itself. And compared to the tedious Open Water, this was gripping stuff. It's out in January 2008, no less.

In between and after these flicks, there was a Q&A with 28 Weeks Later's producer, along with a screening of a justly-deleted scene and other bits and pieces from the September 10 DVD release. Also, Dog Soldiers/The Descent director Neil Marshall screened a trailer for his new movie Doomsday. This looked like a lot of fun, despite the trailer being in black and white (we were lucky to see it at all - Marshall initially had to race back to his Soho edit suite on a rickshaw to get the footage, while festival hosts Alan Jones and Paul McEvoy kept the audience amused). By far his highest-budgeted movie, Doomsday looks very much like a hybrid of Escape From New York, Mad Max 2 and 28 Days Later. Which is fine by me: especially those first two. Looking forward to seeing it in full.

Incidentally, you won't be getting this level of detail about any of the other festival days, for which many will no doubt be grateful. Aren't really planning to go near the laptop much this weekend, until Monday when it will be Red Planet Polish Time. Until then, it's all about beer, blood and belly-laughs.

Have fun, you.


Anonymous said...

Peter Jackson directed neither "American Werewolf" nor "Re-Animator." Perhaps you mean, "Dead Alive" and "Bad Taste"?

Jon Peacey said...

True, but there's a comma in there not a colon.

There is a colon in Last House On The Left that could be borrowed. ;-)

Peter Jackson might have one spare from Braindead too.

Jason Arnopp said...

As Mr Peacey says, Anonymous, you seem to have misconstrued my punctuation. But thanks for assuming I have no idea what I'm talking about. :)