CANNES

It's the biggie; it's the annual all things film extravaganza in the south of France that is the Festival de Cannes.  Team FrightFest is here in force. Follow us as we scour the screening rooms of the festival and Le Marché du Film. Each day we will report back on the films we see, the people we meet and, of course, the late night mindless shenanigans.

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  • DAY ONE  | THE HYPE BEGINS

     

    DAY ONE  -  THE HYPE BEGINS

    With the first freebie in my Film4 FrightFest bag at one minute past the Palais doors opening – a MR. GO 3D badge, the film is about a baseball-playing gorilla! – our trip to Croisette started well and got better from there. We have screeners and screenings up to the eyeballs of quality titles even though we entered this festival having seen a number of hot movies already. It’s always fun on the first day to see what’s being hyped at the main market stalls so here’s my list of interesting items. Stephen Lang stars in a new version of THE MONKEY’S PAW, written by FrightFest faves Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson. David Campbell’s LEMON TREE PASSAGE is an Australian supernatural thriller about ghosts haunting a particular back-packing route. WOLF CREEK 2 might be on the horizon but director Greg McClean is also executive producing the horror outback western TERRITORIAL about a monster prowling a gold-prospecting valley during Australia’s colonial period. Then there’s STALLED, described as ‘EVIL DEAD meets PHONE BOOTH…in a toilet! The promo of this looks hilarious. Ultra 8 Pictures is a new independent film production company founded by Colin Geddes of Midnight Madness, Toronto Film Festival strand fame. First titles up are THE DEMON’S ROOK and DEVIL’S MILE with a remake of ART OF THE DEVIL and the documentary WHY HORROR? in development. Had to mention the latter because they’ve asked me to be in it.

    Flesh-eating squirrels are the stars of SQUIRRELS directed by Ethan (MACHETE) Maniquis and produced by Timur Bekmambetov. HELL BABY is a horror comedy from Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon from RENO 911. COTTAGE COUNTRY is from the HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN producers and HOTEL DE SADE trawls the fetish clubs of China. CRAWL BITCH CRAWL sees the last woman on Earth to get pregnant finding herself trapped in a shrinking tunnel. CHASTITY BITES is the Countess Dracula myth gone DETENTION, while DEVIL MAY CALL has a suicide hotline besieged by a sadistic serial killer. SADAKO 3D has spawned a sequel unsurprisingly titled SADAKO 2 3D. Who knew there was an EMPIRE OF THE ANTS remake?‘No Kids Allowed’ in the TREEHOUSE from director Michael Guy Ellis (ZOMBIE DIARIES). And so it goes on…

    But the most exciting news as far as I’m concerned is the continuing rise in giallo productions. While Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani are still editing their AMER follow-up THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS – we see the promo reel that everyone is raving about on Monday – word reached me from Park Entertainment that those Astron-6 boys Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks (MANBORG, FATHER’S DAY) are about to direct THE EDITOR an all-out giallo homage. Something akin to BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, the story concerns a newsreel/stag film editor with four wooden fingers who finds a dead body in the suite he’s working in. But there’s more to his reality than meets the eye in this meta-movie that builds to a frenzied climax according to the synopsis.

    Until next time..

    Alan.

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  • DAY TWO  |  AND AWAY WE GO AGAIN...

     

    DAY TWO  - AND AWAY WE GO AGAIN...

    It's Cannes 2013. We started with some days of perfect weather and glorious sunshine and then the festival started and the heavens decided to drench all the newly arrived folk with a non stop deluge of rain for around 20 or so hours.

    Perhaps it was the weather but their seemed to be a distinct lack of a 'buzz' around the market on the first day - perhaps things will improve as the feeling is that the initial festival selections were not the best offerings and that unlike in previous years they are saving the more high profile big guns for the second week. We'll see..

    Today has been a movie day - it started with GRAND PIANO - the latest from Eugenio Mira - starring Elijah Wood - a highly enjoyable mix of elements from Argento's OPERA and some of De Palma's finest thrillers. The camerawork is masterful and the concept which admittedly takes some shaky turns works and Wood pulls off the piano playing role with aplomb.

    Rushed over to see V/H/S/2 which I thought was even better than the first one - the Film Festival Mafia (our cohorts, friends and partners on the international film circuit) seemed to agree. Zero weak links this time and some clever riffs on the tried (and sometimes tired) and tested found footage motif - a particular stand-out is the offering from Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans (THE RAID) - which throws just about everything it can at the screen in a deliriously enjoyable shock segment. There's life in that genre strand yet..

    Because the weather was so damn awful last night we caught up on some of the 50 plus festival submission discs littering the apartment - nothing major to report here - but a couple of twinkling gems have emerged so far - Watch this space!

    So - a non gossipy 1st newsletter - I promise more action next time as long as we don't get swept out to sea..

    Till the next time...

    Paul.

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  • DAY THREE | ONE DOWN ONE TO GO...

     

    DAY THREE - ONE DOWN ONE TO GO...

    Hello again from a very soggy Cannes. It's still raining, but we are not allowing it to dampen our spirits as we continue to immerse ourselves in the goings-on in the south of France. Time goes so fast. It's difficult to believe we have been here for a week already.

    I've managed to see a few films in-between the meetings. The best of which by a country mile was the new one by the directors of RABIES Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado, BIG BAD WOLVES. I have yet to speak to anyone who hasn't like this when they see it.

    Yesterday was a day of meetings and catching up with old festival friends. I ran into FrightFest guest from last summer Dominic Brunt, Robbie Moffat, an old friend from Scotland, Paula Devonshire, a guest from our last year at the Prince Charles and Michael Doherty, film editor of many many films including several by George Romero. Recently he has been working on HANNIBAL for ABC in the States and is just waiting for the nod to start on a second series. We also learned last night that the said Mr Romero is working on a prequel to LAND OF THE DEAD with his son Cameron.

    I also met Tom Wadlow. Tom has directed his first feature film WASTELAND. I had met him briefly last year when he was showing a trailer for the film and trying to raise some cash. The film is finished, and he is back this year trying to sell it. I liked Tom and his friends, and I'm looking forward to seeing the film once back in the UK.

    We rounded the day off by attending the Toronto Film Festival party where we caught up with Colin Midnight Madness Geddes and his wife, Kat.

    Today it's the European Fantasy Film Federation meeting, which is as about exciting as watching paint dry. We need to attend and make the effort each year, but I never look forward to it. There were a few laughs though this year.  Alan was labelled that big scary person by an attendee and then nominated to be a bouncer on the door of the Federation Cocktail party tonight.

    Until next time.

    Ian x

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  • DAY FOUR | OUT EARLY

     

    DAY FOUR - OUT EARLY

    My day started really early: a breakfast meeting with Hammer head honchos Simon Oakes and Tobin Armbrust to discuss their upcoming movies and other projects. Obviously THE QUIET ONES, which I was on set with in Oxford, and THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH sequel set against a World War II evacuation backdrop, plus a couple of in-development projects and their new London-based attraction The Hammer House of Horror currently in the early planning stages. Simon asked me what my favourite vintage Hammer movie is and when I replied THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, he smiled enigmatically and told me to watch this space. Perhaps the long mooted remake will finally become a reality. With today’s special effects technologies, just think what the satanic circle climax could achieve in visual terms?

    Then it was off to Altitude Films to meet up with FrightFest friend Mike Runagall to talk about their upcoming slate of horror films. One is from F director Johannes Roberts titled 47 METERS DOWN about three people shark cage diving in Mexico. When the cage breaks free and sinks they are trapped at the bottom of the ocean. With only an hour of oxygen in their tanks they must work out how to open the bars and reach the surface through the shark-infested waters. Mike calls it, “OPEN WATER under water”. Then there’s TIGER HOUSE, a twist on the home invasion thriller in the style of KIDNAPPED, directed by Thomas Daley, the alien invasion sci-fi actioner OUTPOST 37, the nightmarish creature feature THE GOOD PEOPLE and the James Watkins co-produced and co-written THE LOCH starring Peter Mullan as a man driven to financial ruin whose family massacre plans get upset by the arrival of Nessie. Chris Smith is directing a family Christmas movie for Altitude too titled GET SANTA, with Jim Broadbent.

    MPI who are selling HATCHET III and FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY here have just announced three interesting projects. STARRY EYES is to be directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer about a desperate actress who is promised fame and fortune by a satanic cult. LATE PHASES is a werewolf horror by PENUMBRA/COLD SWEAT director Adrian Garcia Bogliano. And CHERRY TREE is the latest from WAKE WOOD director David Keating.

    My favourite movie showing in the market so far is Alex and David Pastor’s L’ULTIMOS DIAS/THE LAST DAYS, a superbly acted, written and directed sci-fi epic about a mysterious epidemic known as The Panic spreading across the planet. This irrational fear of open spaces leads to instant death so the world’s population remains trapped inside buildings. As Barcelona descends into chaos Quim Gutierrez (soon to be seen in the Spanish comedy WHO KILLED BAMBI?)) embarks on a citywide quest to search for his pregnant girlfriend (SLEEP TIGHT’S Marta Etura) without setting foot outside. This means travelling via sewer, subway line, cellars and basements armed only with a failing GPS device and lots of ingenuity. Clever, moving, visually arresting  - an escaped bear from the zoo stages a church attack – and powerfully rendered, THE LAST DAYS has one of the most haunting codas I’ve seen in ages. We showed the Pastor Brothers’ CARRIERS at our 2009 Halloween all-nighter and I met them in Trieste just after. They were talking about making this then, so well done to them both for actually achieving a big budget Hollywood look on a quarter of the budget.

    Another movie I’ve wanted to see for a while is Suri Krishnamma’s THE GRIEF TOURIST and it was so well worth the wait. Michael Cudlitz (the gay cop hooked on painkillers in ‘Southland’) plays a lonely security guard who visits notorious crime scenes during his vacation time. This year’s obsession is with mass murderer and arsonist Carl Marznap (Pruitt Taylor Vince) so he goes to California to wallow in the misery of the actual locations where he was abused as a boy and the sites of his slaughter. Soon he’s imagining Marznap is talking to him, which doesn’t bode well for the hooker plying her trade in the next room to his at a seedy motel. Cudlitz is fearless in the lead role and Melanie Griffith, as a diner waitress who tries to seduce him, gives one of her best performances in a while. It’s a long time since I’ve seen something so powerful, twisted and shocking as this crime chiller.

    I’ll end this postcard with a mini review of the absolutely delightful documentary SHOOTING BIGFOOT about three sets of crazy people frantically trying to track down the fabled Sasquatch creature. Think of a cross between BEST WORST MOVIE and THE AMERICAN SCREAM and that’s this hilarious, thought provoking and quite blood-feezing journey of discovery through the mentally disturbed minds of fanatics who’ll do anything to prove they are right.

    Until next time.

    Alan x

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  • DAY FIVE | AND FINALLY THE SUN COMES OUT

     

    DAY FIVE - AND FINALLY THE SUN COMES OUT

    So much packed into each day here in Cannes - the weather this year has been diabolical as you have no doubt heard:

     

    Last nights European Festival Federation party which we co-hosted was almost an absolute wash out but we all ended up having enormous fun and it was a terrific turn out for this nearly waterlogged bash. Every major international genre festival were in attendance and we invited all the genre talent that we know are in town to attend. Great friend composer Simon Boswell finally got to meet all the festival head honchos as he is currently planning on putting a full band together and play some of his numerous genre scores whilst screening clips and footage. It sounds fantastic if he can put it all together.

    The enormous piles of submissions is ever growing and many new film-makers bombarded me with discs at the bash - lets hope that at least a few are as good as there trailers and promo footage:

    Yesterday I caught the Slash produced first feature NOTHING LEFT THE FEAR, which Alan had watched and enjoyed the day before - a different film from what I was expecting but once the story kicks into high gear it does have some great creepily effective moments.

    After another round of meetings todays screenings include new French shocker DARK TOUCH from Marina De Van who previously directed described and THE JUNGLE from THE REEF helmer Andrew Traucki about a crazed killer Leopard.

    Oh and its FINALLY sunny for the time being at least:

    Until next time!

    Paul x

  • DAY SIX | MY CANNES MOMENT

     

    DAY SIX - MY CANNES MOMENT

    So, what have I got to report since my last Postcard? Well, I'm still trying to fence those bloody jewels. It seemed such a good idea at the time, but otherwise not much. Seriously, I have been taking it easy. I'm letting Alan and Paul do all the work. I could get used to it.

    On Saturday, I had a real Cannes moment. I was at the Variety party, one of our sponsors, and I get a text from Terry Bird. I met Terry down here many years ago when he returned my wallet, which I had left in a taxi, and we have stayed in touch. He also produced and starred in Community, which we showed last year in August. Fancy catching up for a beer. Of course, I replied. OK, be in touch later. An hour later my phone pings. Meet me at 9.30pm at the Palais. So, off I go and arrive at the appointed hour. After all the normal pleasantries I say, "so where do you fancy going?" "Come with me," Terry says. We head off down the pier, right to the end where there's a flash motor boat waiting to take me out into the bay to this huge blue boat anchored about a mile off shore. I have been on yachts here before, but this one was in another league. I have never seen such opulence. The yacht was being rented by a new film studio setting up to rival Pinewood, who have a Yacht here every year, so this new outfits one had to be bigger. Why was I invited, other than a nice gesture from Terry, I have no idea, but you don't look a Cannes gift horse in the mouth? A real Cannes moment to rival my often told Christopher Lee story. Wait, you haven't heard that one? Well, Mr McEvoy and I were at this party and … maybe another time.

    It was the annual horror karaoke party last night. I never sing at these events, but Paul, bless him, brought the house down with the seven, yes a seven song session. Everyone who is everyone in our little world was there, and I got my ticket for Fantastic Fest in Austin in September organised. Thank you, Mr Leauge.

    Earlier, Alan and I had attended the Film4 reception. A very elegant affair attended by many filmmakers and stars.

    So I've not been up to much really. Now, where is my sun tan lotion? My sun lounger awaits.

    Until next time ..

    Ian.

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  • DAY SEVEN | DAY OF THE WET SOCKS

     

    DAY SEVEN - DAY OF THE WET SOCKS

    Finally the rain stopped and it’s been a cool sunny since what will now forever enter Cannes legend as the ‘Day of the Wet Socks’. The weather caused so many events to be postponed or cancelled but the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation cocktail party went ahead despite the appalling seaside conditions at the Southern European Pavilion. It’s always good to get together with our fellow programmers and swap information and tips. The big news though was Sitges deputy head honcho Michael Hostench selling a script to the new low-budget Barcelona-based Ms Entertainment label. To be directed by Marc Carette, Mike tells me that ASMODEXIA is an exorcism movie, with the accent on realism and location. He’ll associate produce too. Everyone now wants to make the movies we show! And everyone wants BIG BAD WOLVES, the WE ARE WHAT WE ARE reimagining (which is a masterpiece and director Jim Mickle’s step into the big time) and CHEAP THRILLS, the three best genre movies on display in the Cannes market for their festivals. Yet it always surprises me how disparate our views can often be when it comes to programme choices.

    Take for example Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s OPEN GRAVE, which is perhaps one of the most divisive this year. We showed Lopez-Gallego’s acclaimed KING OF THE HILL in 2008 and since then he directed the APOLLO 18 found-footage bore. OPEN GRAVE is the tale of six people who wake up with amnesia in a forest on the outskirts of a deserted town. A mass grave is beside them and they are forced to work together to find out who they are, what they are doing there and their part, if any, in the atrocities surrounding them. Trust issues and suspicions arise as they solve the puzzle together and discover the reason why their world is off-kilter. While it looks great, and the cast emote like crazy – you can never go wrong with Thomas Kretschmann – after an intriguing start it slowly, and I do mean slowly, devolves into yet another deadly virus thriller crossing THE CRAZIES with ‘The Walking Dead’. I found it hard to focus on the usual screaming suspects doing the same predictable action and making the identical mistakes as countless other apocalyptic melodramas. But other festival curators loved it - so there you go. Because my good friend Jeremy Zimmerman cast the movie and he was in the audience with the producers I talked to them afterwards. They’ve signed a multi-picture deal with Lopez-Gallego, the next being INERTIA starring Willem Dafoe. Strangely enough OPEN GRAVE could have carried to same title in my view because it is a very sluggish shocker.

    Hope was not too high for NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR either. The first horror to be produced by rock legend Slash, directed by Gore Verbinski’s protégé Anthony Leonardi III and written by Jonathan WC Mills was world premiered in the market place and I must say I found it a refreshing take on THE WICKER MAN/CHILDREN OF THE CORN/THE GATHERING type of religious frightener. James Tupper and Anne Heche are the new pastor and his wife who arrive in Stull, Kansas, hoping for an idyllic country life. At first the town and its people look like being the answer to their prayers even though their three kids are worried about the absence of a local shopping mall. But then the supposedly retiring pastor Clancy Brown puts into motion an ancient ritual that unleashes a demonic fury that tears the family apart. For Stull is one of the seven gateways to Hell and its inhabitants must quell the Beast who rises to walk the Earth at all costs. Leonardi’s direction is naturalistic and laid back, perfect for the subject matter. The acting likewise is normality personified and the writing nuanced and unforced. OK, perhaps some of the creeping CGI evil could have been sharpened up.  But such little nit-picks aside I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric horror in the new Ti West meta-vintage tradition. It really augurs well for other projects on the Slasher Films slate.

    I have been waiting with bated breath to see the promo reel for Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet’s THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS, their follow-up neo giallo to AMER, and it didn’t disappoint. Don’t want to reveal too much about the story but it revolves around a woman vanishing and her husband trying to find out if she left him, she has been killed, or worse…. It looks absolutely stunning and one section in particular, revolving around a character wearing three rings on her hand set with rubies, sapphires and emeralds, could almost have been an idea that Dario Argento sadly axed from MOHER OF TEARS. Superb stuff and if I couldn’t wait to see the completed movie before, now I’m desperate to see it first.

    Till the next time.

    Alan x

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  • DAY EIGHT | MORE MEETINGS AND SCREENERS

     

    DAY EIGHT - MORE MEETINGS AND SCREENERS

    So many meetings and screeners in the last few days - I visited the offices of the sales agents of some exciting forthcoming genre titles. To name just a few…. the first footage from WOLF CREEK 2 which is still in production and looks pretty darn good from the brief glimpse early rough cut teaser trailer. Completion is slated for much later this year.

    ALMOST HUMAN by former FrightFest guest Joe Begos looks great and full of Alien splatter and shocks. THE THEATRE BIZARRE 2 : GRAND GUIGNOL is just starting production with a wonderful list of outstanding genre talent including Pascal Lasugier, Olivier Abbou, Xavier Gans and those INSIDE chaps Bustillo and Maury watch for this one next year. As the promo tagline says they are happy to take Grand Guignol back to its original birthplace. As I tweeted when i saw it the bunch of early scenes from THE RAID 2 drew this response from me "Fuck. Yeah. Wow!" This 2014 release looks to ramp up and expand upon the first films brilliance even in this non graded, fully FX'd etc etc form - it's looking to be an insane action flick of biblical proportions - come on Gareth you can do it again! It's Hammer Time !!!

    From the directors of MACABRE - the Mo Brothers - is the new masked serial killer film KILLERS which also looks very interesting indeed as does STAGE FRIGHT a full blown ROCKY SHOCKERER horror musical with Minnie Driver and meat Loaf in the first feature from Jerome Sable the director of the must see short THE LEGEND OF BEAVER CREEK - please hunt it down if you haven't seen this gem.. Talking of shorts the lovely team behind last years FF World Prem YELLOW have a feature in development - PROJECTION where a projectionist obsessed by a mysterious woman is drawn into a sinister hidden world of murder and dark sexual desire…

    Sex, love and death are the themes behind the also in development new project from Jorg (NEKROMAMTIK) Buttgereit in tandem with 2 other directors in a new anthology flick. Finally I watched an extended promo presentation package for a high budget, high concept Australian creature feature TERRITORIAL - a mix of ALIEN and PREDATORS with all real FX (no CGI) from exec producer Greg (WOLF CREEK) Mclean which brings us full circle.

    The big Palais screening today was the much anticipated follow up to DRIVE from Mr Winding - Refn - ONLY GOD FORGIVES which seems to have split the crits in the usual way - but I absolutely loved this glorious slab of pure cinematic genius - every second of the film looks and sounds phenomenal right the way through to the very last closing credit. Unmissable!

    Until next time…

    Paul.

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