Horror Channel FrightFest 2017

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

To paraphrase a certain legendary horror film tag-line. 2017 was the year that FrightFest well and truly came home to Leicester Square.

After a break of a year, it was back with a vengeance at its first home eighteen years before, The Prince Charles and the Empire Cinema. Refurbishment changes in the Empire meant that weekend pass holders were situated in the IMAX and IMPACT screens. This writer watched most of my films in the latter and it was a very satisfying experience all round on one of the biggest screens in London.

Although this year was going to be emotional with the sad loss of George A. Romero recently, Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 became even more so in the shadow of the Leatherface screening with the death over the weekend of Tobe Hooper, which was announced ahead of the first film on Sunday by co-organiser Paul McEvoy, who with Alan Jones, Ian Rattray, and Greg Day kept the festivities going well.

Kane Hodder and Barbara Crampton kicked off proceedings on Thursday evening ahead of the World Premiere of Cult of Chucky, with director Don Mancini, Fiona Dourif and the mega-popular Jennifer Tilly in attendance and the film encapsulated all that is great about the genre.

The Douche Brothers returned as well with Adam Green and Joe Lynch, paying tribute to both filmmakers, particularly Green who credited Romero with motivating him to make a fourth Hatchet film, Victor Crowley, which was the Hatchet 10th Anniversary Special Event that was announced in the programme. Lynch also credited Hooper after he asked for permission to make Wrong Turn 2 like a homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Without question, the hottest ticket of the weekend was Leatherface, which sold out and kept Hooper’s creation well and truly alive. There was unanimous acclaim for the Home Alone-twisted Better Watch Out and the British contingent were well served with one of the pleasant surprises of the festival, the dark romantic comedy Double Date.

My own personal favourite of the festival was the Larry Cohen documentary, King Cohen, which played in the Prince Charles on Friday night and got sustained applause and cheers. Natasha Kermani’s Imitation Girl was a neat contrast to the other films in the programme and Kurt Harder’s Incontrol tapped into the real and imagined psychology of virtual technology.

Joe Lynch surprised with his satirical attack on corporate life, Mayhem and certainly shows more than his talent for horror here. The heist thriller 68Kill was another screening that went down well.

Todd Tucker’s affectionate Halloween homage, The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve (right down to using some of John Carpenter’s Lost Themes in the soundtrack) was another winner, with some nice moments of gore and a brand-new horror icon in ‘The Trickster’.

Another Discovery offering, Ruin Me, personified the horror nostalgia trip and went down a storm with those who attended.

Tragedy Girls, which closed the festival, tapped into Heathers big-time with its story of two teenage girl killers out for notoriety but had its own trademark moments.

There were some fair offerings. Game Of Death, Killing Ground, and Still/ Born were all competent, but never fulfilled their set-ups well enough.

It certainly proved to be a fast-moving weekend.

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