Depraved Dreams

London’s annual genre festival, FrightFest, turns 20 this year, and as ever there is plenty to satisfy those looking for a bit of midnight madness. Sponsored by Arrow Video, this five-day festival will be offering the usual mix of premieres, live events and even a podcast recording by Arrow’s two resident horror heads, journalist Sam Ashurst and special effects artist Dan Martin, a regular collaborator with Ben Wheatley.

Arriving just ahead of its nationwide release will be the UK premiere for Alexandre Aja’s Crawl, a CG-heavy alligator movie set in Florida in the midst of hurricane season. Barry Pepper, a rather underused figure in Hollywood despite working with Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg, co-stars with Britain’s own Kaya Scodelario, as father and daughter must survive being trapped in the ‘crawlspace’ beneath their home.

Likewise, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark will also premiere on Thursday, the day before its UK release. Co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, his first major project since winning an Oscar for The Shape of Water, this effective adaptation of short stories by Alvin Schwartz spirits audiences back to 1968, at a time when Nixon was running for President and Night of the Living Dead was hitting cinemas. 

Among the highlights this year, an interview with the Italian maestro Dario Argento, who no doubt will have something to say about Luca Guadagnino’s remake of his own hugely influential Suspiria. Argento is in town to launch his autobiography Fear, and will even be signing copies should you wish to meet the man in person.

Fans of early David Cronenberg can also catch a restored version of his 1977 chiller Rabid. The follow-up to Shivers, which was his first full-length movie, this features former porn star Marilyn Chambers as Rose, who undertakes radical plastic surgery after a motorbike crash and develops a taste for blood, infecting those around her.

For pure retro weirdness, how about The Banana Splits? If you’re old enough, you might remember the kids’ programme that first began in 1968, with its hugely catchy theme tune and giant furry costumes. Now Danishka Esterhazy returns with a story based around a taping of the show that turns into a nightmare. Has cult movie written all over it.

Arrow Video FrightFest runs from 22 August to 26 August. For more details, visit here.

James Mottram

1. Still from
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.