Sunday, 30 October 2022

Halloween Frightfest 2022

For Your Fright Only

Halloween Fright Fest 2022
Sat 29th October - Sun 30th October 2022
Comprising Tripping The Dark Fantastic,
Gnomes, Freeze, Mad Heidi, Outpost,
On The Edge
and The Offering

Well, it’s good to be back at the Halloween edition of Fright Fest again. I attended a few films at the regular August edition of Fright Fest but I’ve always had a soft spot for the endurance experience of their Halloween movie marathons and this was my first post-lockdown attendance of that edition (but not post outbreak people, be careful out there). This one began at 10.45am on Saturday morning and finished a bit before 1am the next morning, so almost 15 hours of non-stop movies with just ten to twenty minutes between each Q&A with various of the cast and crew at the end of each movie until the next one. So, yeah, eke out those loo and snack breaks wisely, is always good advice.

This year's was a particularly strong line up and I’m not going to exhaust myself giving long reviews of each one... especially not after that N29 night bus ride a few hours ago. Instead, I’ll just do my usual with a few lines on each one, to give you a flavour of the event and films in question. All of the films shown were either World or UK premieres and so I’m hoping some, if not all, can be revisited on some kind of physical media at a later date. Also... and this has happened before to me with reviews... please be aware that at least a couple of the movies screened are still works in progress and haven’t had their final edit locked in yet.

Tripping The Dark Fantastic
Directed by L. G. White

Tripping The Dark Fantastic is a visual melange of concert footage and documentary talking heads (both contemporary and of their time) of a live show film composer Simon Boswell put on with his band a couple of years ago. His son is also in the band (and an excellent guitar player) and his lead vocalist Lola, who is also his wife, directed, edited and created the various graphic overlays and typographical assaults which are part of the DNA of this movie. It’s good stuff and it was nice hearing some of the stories behind some of Boswell’s key scores over the years, as well as getting to hear their live counterpart versions and hearing others talk about him. Guests in the film included Dario Argento, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Richard Stanley, Iggy Pop and Ewan McGregor.

Directed by Ruwan Suresh Heggelman

This six minute short depicted a woman out jogging in a forest getting attacked and recycled by a bunch of tiny gnomes. Quite gory with no dialogue and, once I’d seen it... it made perfect sense that this was more a calling card of a film (probably to help secure financing) and the director is hard at work on a feature length version... which I suspect will maybe start off with this six minute sequence, or a remake of that.

Directed by Charlie Steeds

Freeze is a tale of a bunch of sailors who travel to somewhere in the Arctic (I think... it was shot on location in Norway), to find a friend of the captain who went missing in the region a couple of years before. I won’t ruin the plot but it does involve fish people and one of the reasons I was looking forward to this one was because it sounded from the synopsis just like H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness and, indeed, there are certainly riffs of this which the director was obviously going for as that title is name checked in a line of dialogue... as is Dagon and, well, the ship piloted by the crew is called the Innsmouth so, yeah, of course it was going to be fish people. The film was entertaining and well acted but it seemed to me to be just a little over ambitious for its small budget, truth be told. Felt maybe a little more like 1980s era BBC Doctor Who or Blakes Seven than a horror epic but, still, quite fun.

Mad Heidi
Directed by Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein

Mad Heidi was easily the darling of this year’s Fright Fest. Billed as the first Swissploitaiton movie, it took some great exploitation genres of the past such as blacksploitation, women in prison movies, revenge movies and blended it altogether into a cheesy romp of a fun filled time. Loads of action, gore and pinches of nudity. Sights to be seen such as death by cheese anal insertion, death by Toblerone bar and ‘ultra Swiss cheese’ induced zombie super soldiers. I sincerely hope this one gets a Blu Ray release sometime soon... not to be missed and easily one of the most fun filled films I’ve seen at Fright Fest, with some of the best audience reaction. A real crowd pleaser.

Directed by Joe Lo Truglio

Written and directed by comic actor Joe Lo Truglio and starring his wife Beth Dover as the film’s main protagonist, Outpost is an amazing tale about a woman suffering from the aftermath of domestic abuse from her ex-boyfriend. So she takes a volunteer job on the top of a mountain outpost, as a look out spotting forest fires, for the relative isolation the job offers her. But there’s more going on than the audience might at first realise and Dover’s incredible acting, coupled with a long, slow stealth reveal makes for a taut and, in my opinion, very commercially viable movie. I hope this one gets picked up for some proper distribution soon and that the director helms some more movies.

On The Edge
Directed by The Soska Sisters

On The Edge is the very new, surprise lock down film conceived, written, directed by and starring the Soska Sisters with Aramis Sartorio (aka porn star Tommy Pistol, who was truly great in this) as the lead protagonist. Sylvia Soska plays his wife and Jen Soska plays Mistress Satana... a dominatrix he hires for a 36 hour session but, is she merely a dominatrix or a version of the devil? This one had a completely different but equally interesting audience reaction to the earlier Mad Heidi. This one gets very ‘edge play’ intense and the audience were so caught up in it that, when the soundtrack gets low, you could almost have heard a pin drop. It’s got a welcome, underlying message of the curative properties of the BDSM lifestyle (especially within the world of BDSM as a profession and I can certainly relate to this message, although I’m not going to go into why here) but I wondered if certain aspects of the movie might possibly not be totally accepted by the BDSM community at large. In that, the introduction of alcohol, drugs and psychedelic states of mind (depending on your interpretation of certain scenes) might not necessarily be seen to embrace SSC or RACK to an extent.* Either way though, it makes for a great movie and another hit for the incredible Soska twins. I hope this one gets an uncut Blu Ray release for sure.

The Offering
Directed by Oliver Park

The last film of the evening, The Offering, was the one ‘old school’ chiller of the films shown at this year’s Halloween Fright Fest and, yeah, it was a really great entry dealing with a fractured father/son relationship in the Jewish community and a demonic entity intent on taking the unborn child of the son’s wife. This one had some nice scares and a good, creeping atmosphere to it. Also, some really nice special effects when he goat-faced demonic entity made appearances. A good one to end the night on I think.

So that’s me done with this year’s Halloween Fright Fest and, well, a good time was had by all, I suspect. I can’t wait until next year’s two Fright Fest blocks and am hoping to snag a few of these ones on Blu Ray at some point in the future. Thanks muchly to the organisers of the event, who always show the audience a terrific time and help make a caring, sharing community of horror movie fans.

*Safe Sane Consensual and Risk Aware Consensual Kink ways of playing.

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