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Postcard Five - 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. 


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