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Saturday kicked off with Nordic noir thriller The Hypnotist, which I skipped in favour of a leisurely breakfast and morning. Sharon did manage to see most of it and said it put her to sleep (well, what else would a hypnotist do?), although she had to duck out early for our interview with No One Lives star Derek Magyar.



So to kick the day off I started with Richard Raaphorst's Nazi scientist romp Frankenstein's Army. Having already seen a screener of this one I was keen to find out how it would play to the Frightfest audience. It tells the story of a Soviet Army squad operating behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Germany in World War II. After a fairly regular start to their mission, the squad uncovers a secret laboratory where a scientist is creating nightmarish creatures using humans and parts of machines. It sticks to a found footage mandate with a soldier named Dimitri behind the camera, at first capturing images to use in propaganda and later as evidence of the experiments. While the creature design is fantastic (Raaphorst has a long career in conceptual design and special effects), the found footage aspect really doesn't work. There's enough madness and gore to keep the Frightfest crowd entertained, but I can't help feeling they missed a trick with this one. More conventional film-making would have negated the problems with the found footage (the cameraman never drops his equipment, even when being attacked by the creatures) and given us a better glimpse at Raaphorst's creations that run the line between something from the mind of Clive Barker and entities from the Bioshock video games. Still, as a throwaway slice of entertainment it's not that bad, although there seemed to be problems with the audio that rendered much of the dialogue inaudible.



Only the Gods know why this particular sword and beard outing was scheduled into Frightfest, but the smart money is on some kind of contractual obligation. Neither remotely horror, nor even particularly entertaining, Hammer of the Gods is a viking saga looking to cash in on the current trend for violent medieval action (think Game of Thrones without all the shagging). It was the subject of much grumbling before the festival and an equal amount after it was shown. So low was my interest in this one, I opted to watch it on my laptop back at the hotel while ironing. And I wished I had more ironing to do.



Back over to the empire, clothes freshly pressed, for what was one of the perfect festival offerings: Ryuhei Kitamura's No One Lives. It's another film I'd seen pre-festival and I was in no doubt it was going to be a hit. It's perfect Frightfest fayre; fast paced, some laugh out loud moments and plenty of brutal killings. If I could've put money on a film that would have got cheers and applause it would have been this one, and I would have collected big time on that wager.

You can read my full review HERE.



Much like Hammer of the Gods, R.I.P.D. had plenty of pre-weekend moaning about its inclusion. However, unlike the Viking saga, this supernatural equivalent of Men In Black and Reaper offered a decent slice of no-brain entertainment. Ryan Reynolds is a newly deceased Boston cop who gets the option of joining the Rest In Peace Department, rather than going straight into the afterlife. He's partnered up with a veteran spirit hunter played by Jeff Bridges and the pair set about their duties of capturing and sending back wayward souls that have escaped their passage to the other side. As is normal in these situations, someone somewhere is plotting a coup de grace that will take over the world and the responsibility for foiling the plot falls at the feet of the two undead cops. With a silly blend of humour and big-budget CGI, plus some post-converted 3D, it's a high-octane battle between the living, the dead and the somewhere-in-between. Kept me amused for a couple of hours anyway.




Rounding out the evening came Evan Katz's 'how far would you go for cash?' thriller Cheap Thrills. When two old friends unexpectedly meet in a bar and discuss their financial worries, they never banked on meeting an exuberant, cash-flashing millionaire and his wife. The bets and wagers start of innocent enough and the two down on their luck friends are keen to take part in the hope of earning a little extra cash. But when their benevolent host suggests moving the party back to his place, the events take a more serious and sinister turn...

I'd expected Cheap Thrills to be exactly the kind of film I'd hate; a grim and torturous 90 minutes full of unpleasantness. While there's plenty of unpleasantness, it's not nearly as torturous as I'd imagined, with David Chrichirillio's witty script providing plenty of dark relief from the bloodshed. Made on a shoestring, but an extremely polished and entertaining effort.

You can read Becky Roberts' full review of Cheap Thrills HERE

My grade: fourstars

Day three was a triumph, and to celebrate a mostly decent selection of films I hopped up to the Phoenix Artists Club for a few after-hours drinky-poos with Ilan and Sharon. Unfortunately, 'a few' involved staying until 3am kicking-out time. What are my chances of making the first film on day four? Find out soon...




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Daniel Benson

About The Author
Daniel Benson
UK Editor / Webmaster
Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.
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