Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Documentary Tackling Shark Finning Seeks Crowdfunding Help

The ocean has fallen foul to the ravages of human appetites including whaling, excessive fishing draining stocks, and the practice of corralling dolphins for captivity or food as depicted in the chilling documentary The Cove. Philip Waller's documentary, Extinction Soup looks to expose yet another slice of oceanic savagery, shark finning. Writer, producer and director Waller is looking for funds through crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo to cover post production costs for a film that looks set to highlight and bring about legal changes to curb shark finning, a practice that could have devastating effects on the environment.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

[Fright Fest Feature] Rediscovering Found Footage

Over the years I had grown increasingly tired of the "found footage" sub genre of horror. Most will be familiar with the format; a team of investigators or film makers venture into some remote part of the world to look into a grisly event and disappear. Sometime later however their recording equipment is found intact complete with footage which is extracted, edited and presented to cinema audiences worldwide. What makes these films popular is the inference they are true stories and executed properly, contain a gritty realism as seen from the players' point of view drawing audiences into the unfolding scary events. It is an interesting format that works well but unfortunately has seen that market become somewhat over-saturated  Fright Fest features a bevy of such found footage films which seem to have breathed new life into the format.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

[Fright Fest Special] On Tender Hooks

Stars; Kate Shenton, Tam Smith, Ana Loco, Damien Lloyd-Davies, Charlyne Chiappone
Written and Directed by; Kate Shenton

WARNING!!!! If you have a sensitive constitution perhaps you should not read this review. 

Fly on the wall documentary by a young filmmaker who spent a year following and talking to people who engage in human suspension, an activity that involves piercing themselves with hooks and suspending in mid air. Starting in London before moving onto Rio, Croatia, and Oslo in Norway, the film shines a light on the people and their reasoning behind as well as feelings about this mind blowing, innovating and largely misunderstood past time.

Friday, 30 August 2013

[Fright Fest Special] The Shorts at Fright Fest

The amazing aspect of short films is their ability, under the proper creative guidance of course, to tell a complete story with as much running time as it takes to travel from my hotel room to Leicester Square (around 13 mins). In fact a well crafted short film can be more entertaining and engaging than most Hollywood feature length productions. This year at Fright Fest nine short films received their big screen premiers from new and established names in the genre. The event also played host to the imaginatively titled and conceived 666 Shortcuts to Hell film competition. Let us also not forget those highly entertaining and gruesome shorts encouraging the audience to turn off their mobile phones or risk facing bloody retribution. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

[Fright Fest Special] R.I.P.D 3D Review - UK Premier

Stars; Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker
Director Robert Schwentke
Running Time; 120 mins

Recently and untimely deceased Detective Nick Walker is given an opportunity to serve the R.I.P.D (Rest in Peace Department), an afterlife enforcement agency tasked with capturing souls looking to evade judgment. Partnered with grisly veteran Sheriff Roy Pulsifier, Walker soon realises that his death in the line of duty is linked to a plot to build an ancient staff that will bring about the end of the world. The two are caught up in a race against time to find the artefacts before it's too late.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

[Fright Fest Special] Review You're Next - London Preview

Stars; Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz
Director; Adam Wingard
Running Time; 95 mins
Release Date (Cinema) 28th August.

A family reunion to celebrate a wedding anniversary in a remote manor house turns into a bloody nightmare as a menacing masked figure traps the terrified group and begins picking them off one by one. The only person who stands in his way is a feisty family guest who puts her survival training to use protecting everyone in the house. Soon it becomes apparent the killer is not alone and the real fight for survival begins.

Although production finished on this project two years ago Adam Wingard's (A Horrible Way to Die, v/h/s) home invasion revenge picture is finally ready to grace the cinema screen. Packed with gruesome suspenseful action "You're Next" ticks all the boxes and adds a few of its own.

[Fright Fest Special] Review Curse of Chucky - European Premier

Stars; Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, A Martinez
Director; Don Mancini
Running Time; 90 Mins

Chucky is back and this time he is unleashing murderous mayhem on a grieving dysfunctional family. The life of wheelchair bound Nica has been shattered following the death of her mother. The arrival of Nica's sister and her family stirs up old arguments and new ones about Nica's perceived inability to cope on her own. When each member is found horribly murdered she begins to suspect that the culprit might be the strange doll delivered a few days ago, one that seems to have itched itself to Nica's little niece.

Film 4 Fright Fest 2013 - Day 2 Friday 23rd August

The first day presented a heady mix of excitement and exhilaration even though Fright Fest for me did not get started until 9.00 at night. It was certainly an eventful and entertaining evening resulting in me crawling into my hotel room at an ungodly hour hoping I would survive the first full day of the event. The goal for that day was to cram in as many films as possible and report back to you all but this was a task that would prove to be easier said than done.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Film 4 Fright Fest 2013 - Day 1 Thursday 22nd August

The banner above the entrance to Leicester Square's Empire Cinema says it all; a rallying cry for horror fans to enter and partake in a festival of cinematic bloody carnage that are some of the best modern and classic horror films ever committed to celluloid (well maybe not all of them). Yes Fright Fest has arrived, and one of London's most prestigious movie theatres has opened its doors to the "Woodstock of gore". This year not only marks Front Row's debut attendance at Fright Fest but a first for me personally as an avid film buff and horror fanatic. With my festival pass in hand I was ready to be enthralled, exhilarated, engaged and entertained, as well as have the proverbial fecal matter scared out of me. 

Day 1 actually consisted mainly of just the evening with an introduction by actor and director Bobcat Goldthwaite (more familiar to many as Zed from the Police Academy films) before launching into the first film of the event, The Dead 2; India.  Having not seen the first film it seemed pointless to sit through the sequel; word across the whisper gallery praised the film as a superior to its predecessor. One to watch on DVD. 

Whilst waiting for the much anticipated European premier of Curse of Chucky followed by a preview screening of You're Next, a quick glance at the festival guide revealed a schedule bursting with 50 screenings of films (95%of which were premiers) from all over the world. Reading the showing times for all three screens left me somewhat dizzy with all the excited anticipation of swine in swill but also heady panic of which film to watch and when, worried that I might make the wrong choices. Currently this is still an issue and once I have cracked my system of cramming in as many films as possible in much the same way one approaches an exam I shall patent and share with you all. The remainder of the time was spent bantering with other like minded horror fans on a variety of topics from deadly drinking games to a loathing of Michael Bay whilst trying not to inflict a starstruck stare at Human Centipede II star Laurence R. Harvey passing among the crowd. 

This was also my first time watching any film at the Empire cinema. The main theatre is impressive with a seating capacity of over 1300 cinemagoers, and a screen following a panoramic curved wall and towering over the immediate rows like King Kong from the Chrysler building, but without the chest thumping or attacking bi-planes. The size and style of the auditorium took me back to childhood days of similar styled cinema screens in Bristol's Odeon before the mid 80s makeover, and the late local wartime picture houses that were the Gaiety and Whiteladies Road with their theatre style art deco screens now sadly absent from modern day multiplexes. 

Curse of Chucky and You're Next were both highly impressive films but for very different reasons. Curse was a reminder that a familiar horror franchise can maintain a high standard of entertainment and You're Next breathed fresh life (or should that be violent death) into the modern day home invasion horror. What made the screenings enjoyable however was sitting in a theatre of hundreds of horror lovers laughing and clapping at the films' most inventive and entertaining (and yes violent) moments. I cannot remember the last time I watched any film in the cinema which was greeted at the end with a thunderous round of applause. This however could be attributed to the presence of key cast and crew from the films at the screening and a loyal fan base showing its appreciation.

A great start to what promises to be a cinematic marathon of horror screenings that will probably wield more cutting instruments than a metallurgist's hobby room and splatter enough blood and guts to rival an abattoir. Fright Fest is on, a bar has been raised high and I cannot wait to see how this will unfold.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Horror Channel Presenter Crowdfunds Latest Film Project

Actress and television presenter Emily Booth will make her short film d├ębut behind and in front of the the camera after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Based on an ancient Celtic myth Selkie will see Booth star as a sea creature who escapes enslavement looking for revenge, and serve as the film's producer. The ongoing crowdfunding campaign through the international renowned Kickstarter platform has already exceeded its funding target to cover the cost of the film's traditional special effects. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

[Review] Olympus Has Fallen

Stars; Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo
Screenplay; Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benidikt
Director; Antoine Fuqua
Cert 15; Running Time 120 mins

When highly organised terrorists invade American soil, and take over the White House holding the US President hostage, it's up to disgraced former secret service agent Mike Banning to save the day. Time is not on his side however as the terrorists demand the removal of US military from South Korean waters but have a far more insidious plan to implement.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

[Feature] Ray Harryhausen - Effects Guru 1920 - 2013

Many of us will pay good money to see a film at the multiplex that feature our favourite actors, or helmed by renowned directors. Yet very few of the creative genius' behind some of the most eye popping visual effects had eager viewers flocking to the cinema except for special effects pioneer and innovator Ray Harryhausen. Whilst the likes of Rick Baker, Tom Savini, and Stan Lee had a strong following who would watch a film solely based on their work, none had the strength of following like Harryhausen whose body of work includes Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans. He passed away on 7th May 2013 aged 92 at his home in London.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blood Red; Crowdfunding Killer Brit Horror

What would you do if fate brought you into direct contact with a notorious serial killer and gives you a chilling ultimatum? That is the basic premise of Blood Red, a British horror film that promises to become a cult hit upon release. The project is seeking funds from various investors, with the pre-production costs to be met through crowdfunding. The creative team behind this sinister production are campaigning for funds through the platform IndieGoGo with only ten days till deadline and need the help of the crowd. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bigger & Badder; Crowdfunded Horror Film With Bite

It is unheard of for a film review to grace the pages of the Gazette however an exception is being made since it culminates in coverage of a project that has come full circle. The Bigger & Badder crowdfunding project first featured in the Gazette back in December 2011, as part of a post looking at the emergence of independent British horror films. It was featured again in August 2012 following the campaign's success having secured more than the funds needed, which principally used to cover the costs of special effects and make up. The film was completed thanks to a team of dedicated cast and crew who volunteered their services, as well as the production efforts of Paul  Banner and Laura Carter.