Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

It’s almost the August Bank Holiday here in the UK which can mean only one thing, it’s almost time for Arrow Video Frighfest! The annual event, now in its nineteenth (!) year, will once again take over the Cineworld Empire Leicester Square for four and a half days with the best in the dark heart of cinema. Films ranging from the classic slasher, to ghosts, to malevolent computer chips and dangerous tattooists, will all be on display, and with over seventy films on the line-up, there is something for everybody. Now with so many films on display, and not enough hours in the days to watch them all, picking your Frighfest programme can be almost as daunting and terrifying as the films on screen. To ease some of this we have once again ploughed through as many films as possible to create our ultimate pick list.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

First up is the film which opens the festival – The Ranger. If you want to get the true Frightfest experience you can’t very well miss the opening movie. Luckily, in addition to being the first, it’s also one of the best screening at this year’s event. The first opening night film to be directed by a woman, Jenn Wexler, takes the audience on a post-modern, punk-rock feminist journey through the old-school eighties slasher movie.

A group of punks hide out in a cabin in the woods after a run-in with the law. Their troubles are not over though as they end up on the wrong side of the local park ranger, one whom takes his job deadly seriously. Expect punk-rock attitude and aesthetics, bloody death sequences, and an almost feral final girl. The Ranger is sure to get you all revved up for the festival ahead.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Opening night sees the eighties theme continue into the second film of the festival, Summer of ’84. The film is the follow-up to the totally awesome Turbo Kid, which screened at Frightfest a few years back. This time, Mad Max style apocalyptic wastelands and Gnomesticks have been left in favour of creating a classic Amblin-like tale of friendship and mystery.

The Goonies turn detectives in this love letter to teen-centric genre films of the eighties. The story follows Davey and his friends as they investigate his neighbour, whom Davey believes is the local serial killer. Summer of ’84 evokes pure nostalgia from its opening moments and will have everyone pining to go back to that much simpler time.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Frightfest don’t just screen new genre films, oh no, each year they also screen a select handful of classics. This year they have one of the ultimate classics in the form of Halloween. One of the first slasher films to grace cinema screens, the film introduced us to the maniacal Michael Myers, Jamie Lee Curtis as one of the first final girl’s Laurie Strode, and the directing mastery of one John Carpenter.

Appearing at the festival with a glossy restoration to celebrate its 40th, this is the perfect chance to see a true classic on the big screen. It’s also perfectly timed for the forthcoming follow-up Halloween 2018 which arrives in UK cinemas in October.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

It would be rather rude to attend Frighfest and not check-out the documentary that gives you an in-depth history of the very festival you are attending. Shot over several years, Frightfest: Beneath the Dark Heart of Cinema includes interviews with all your favourite Frightfest organisers – Alan Jones, Greg Day, Ian Rattray and Paul McEvoy, as well as a plethora of familiar faces from Frightfest films of years gone by.

If you’ve been attending for a while, keep your eyes peeled as you just might spot yourself within the movie. Finally, the festival that celebrates the dark heart of cinema receives a film that celebrates itself.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

If you’re wanting a film that truly explores the dark heart of cinema, look no further than Seeds. A first time feature directed by Owen Long, Seeds stars Long’s own brother Trevor Long (Ozark) as a man fighting a very taboo desire. Marcus (Trevor Long) returns to the family fold after an unfortunate incident; once back, he realises that his ordeal has only just begun as he comes face to face with his estranged niece Lily, with whom he shares a terrible secret.

By no means an easy film to sit through given some of its content, Seeds will not be a film that pleases everyone. But if you’re wanting to push yourself out of your usual comfort zone, Seeds is the perfect selection. Just don’t blame us if it gets under your skin.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Frightfest is as much about the social enjoyment of watching horror films surrounded by like minded people as it about consuming as many horror films as you possibly can. This means that whenever there is a truly ‘typical’ horror film on display, this is the best audience to see it with. It’s perfect then that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich screens at this year’s event.

Seeking to re-ignite the horror franchise, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich follows the events of an Andre Toulon convention, where the attendees collections of puppets take on a murderous life of their own. It also stars the First Lady of Frightfest Barbara Crampton. It wouldn’t be Frightfest without at least one Crampton film, and this year there are several.

A true old-school B-movie horror, complete with all varieties of boobs and gore. For those thinking that they don’t make them like that anymore, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is here to prove that sometimes they still do.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

The foreign language films at this year’s Frightfest are particularly strong. Our watch-list features a handful, the first being One Cut of the Dead. On the face of it, the film is just another zombie film, but it adds a fun and rather unique slant. One Cut of the Dead tells the story of a film crew’s efforts to create an innovative live zombie feature. It’s part found-footage, part Wes Anderson film, an odd mix which works.

The standout of the film, and the reason you absolutely have to watch this one, is the opening twenty or so minutes. All filmed within one shot, the opening is a true feat of film-making mastery, and will be simply incredible on the big screen.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Short film Raging Balls of Steel Justice screened to rapturous applause several years ago ahead of one of the main screen films. Now comes the feature length follow-up – Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires. The year has shifted from 1985 to 1986 and sees maverick, renegade, loose cannon, lone wolf, cop on the edge, who doesn’t play by the rules, Chuck Steel, do battle with trampires; basically wino vampires.

Expect lots of claymation violence, and political incorrectness in this spoof on the action heroes of the eighties and nineties. P.S, don’t forget to bring your Chuck Steel mask should you still have it lurking at home.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Last year director Colin Minihan showcased the spectacular It Stains the Sand Red at Frighfest, now he follows it up with What Keeps You Alive. The film reunites Minihan with his leading lady Brittany Allen whom plays one half of a same-sex couple celebrating their anniversary. The celebrations soon take a deadly turn however, and the women face a battle of wits and a fight for survival.

We don’t want to say too much about this one as the magic comes from the surprises hidden within. What we will say it that this is a film that explores the darker nature of relationships and the secrets we hide from those we love. What Keeps You Alive will have you glued to the screen as this relationship unravels.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Leigh Whannell, of Saw and Insidious fame, moves away from horror with Upgrade, an uber-violent science fiction action thriller. Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Upgrade tells the story of Grey Trace, a man who finds himself a quadriplegic after an attack which leaves his wife dead. Whilst trying to readjust to his new life, Grey is approached by a scientist who has developed a chip, known as STEM, which will help him walk again. Once STEM is in place, Grey uses his newfound mobility to hunt down those responsible for his wife’s death.

John Wick meets old-school eighties violence with a lovely science-fiction twist; Upgrade‘s Saturday night main screen spot is the perfect time to view it. An exhilarating upgrade to the sci-fi, action revenge thriller story, Upgrade proves that Whannell has more than horror in his arsenal.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

If you’re in the mood for a psychological story with a foreboding atmosphere then look no further than Perfect Skin. Starring Richard BrakePerfect Skin follows a dedicated tattooist as he embarks on a mission to leave his mark on the world, which involves a young Polish woman and a lot of ink…

Directed by first-time director Kevin Chicken, Perfect Skin manages to showcase a villain with whom the audience can empathise with. He’s not the typical psychopath and the film doesn’t include all the expected depraved torture. It’s much more subdued and asks you to engage with your intellect, which after a few stalk and slashes, will be medicine for the soul. Worth a watch for Brake’s brilliant performance alone, Perfect Skin delves into some very interesting themes and issues.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Another foreign language film that flips the zombie film on its head is The Night Eats the World. Although made and set within France, the movie is in English which means no subtitles for those festival film-weary eyes. The plot is also pretty straight-forwards too, one that will be easy to follow after a couple of late night’s at The Phoenix. Sam wakes up after a night partying in Paris to find the world changed. The undead now roam the Earth, and Sam decides to hole-up in an apartment building, but how long can that last?

Based on the novel by Pit Agarmen, The Night Eats the World is a remarkable film; a profound look at the ability of humanity to remain through the longest of darkness. For a film so filled with corpses, this one’s pulse beats strong and true.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Based on the stage play of the same name, Ghost Stories offers audiences a collection of three equally chilling tales of the paranormal. Professional debunker Professor Goodman investigates these tales and finds himself stumbling down a very strange rabbit-hole that leaves his sanity and very being in the balance.

Only released in cinemas in April of this year, Ghost Stories gets a special screening at this year’s Frightfest, which includes a live audio commentary given by Frightfest loyalists Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. The pair directed the film (and Nyman also starred in it), and over the course of the screening, the pair will share all the secrets behind the film-making process. An absolute must for budding filmmakers out there. Just make sure you’ve caught Ghost Stories before attending, this is one film you do not want to spoil!


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

We’ve been gushing about Tigers are Not Afraid since we first saw it in February, and will continue to gush about it until everyone has seen it and finally gets the UK distribution that it wholeheartedly deserves. Directed by Issa López, Tigers are Not Afraid is a heart-breaking tale of orphans who take on a cartel in Mexico.

Watching Tigers Are Not Afraid is like stepping into a enchanting nightmare, and has the honour of being one of Guillermo Del Toro’s films of 2017. Tigers are Not Afraid is a beautiful blend of Pan’s LabyrinthCity of God and Hook. It has everything you could want from a film – darkness, light, pathos and hope. To get all of this into just eighty-five minutes beggars belief and proves that Issa López is definitely one to watch.  A truly emotional movie; put simply, you will struggle to find a more perfect film than this.


Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

Last year director Matthew Holness surprised the Frightfest audiences with a sneak peek at his latest project – Possum. Those two minutes were some of the most terrifying of the entire festival and now, a year later, Holness returns with the finished item. We caught it at Edinburgh festival and can confirm it truly is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Starring the ever reliable Sean Harris, who is simply stunning here, Possum feels very arthouse in tone and is a slow and sombre character study in Harris’ broken man Philip. The tension that is built up is palpable, and once you see Philip’s choice of puppet we guarantee you won’t be sleeping for a while. That thing is pure bad dream fuel.


Climax trailer
Frightfest 2018: Films Not To Be Missed

If you don’t stay till the final film you haven’t really done Frightfest. Don’t worry, if festival fatigue has started to set in as the organisers always save something very special for the final film, and this year’s pick is no exception. Directed by controversial director Gasper Noé, and provided by festival sponsors Arrow Video, Climax was one of the hits of this year’s Cannes film festival.

Described best as a horror musical, Climax follows the trials and tribulations of a young dance troupe as they rehearse for an American tour. Someone spikes their mid-session break drinks and things escalate quite rapidly from thereon in. Though based on a true story, Gasper Noé adds his own flourishes to ensure that this is one film you’ll remember long after Frightfest finishes.

Arrow Video Frightfest takes place at Cineworld Empire Leicester Square, and runs from Thursday 23rd August until Monday 27th August 2018. Limited tickets are still on sale and can be purchased here