FILM4 FrightFest is the UK's premiere international fantasy and horror film festival. The festival, now in its 14th year, attracts thousands of genre fans each August to the heart of London's West End and the prodigious Empire Cinema, for five packed days of premieres, previews, personal appearances, signings and surprises.
Originally conceived by Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Alan Jones FrightFest staged its first event in 2000 at the Prince Charles cinema, near London’s Leicester Square. Its August Bank Holiday weekend date has remained a fixture ever since. Greg Day, their long-serving PR man, joined the company as a co-director in 2006.
The objective of FrightFest was to provide the UK with a horror fantasy festival of similar stature to the market leaders in Europe, Sitges (Spain) and Brussels (Belgium). FrightFest has since evolved into a community where audiences and guests alike travel from all over the world to be part of the event’s unique atmosphere.
Due to rapidly increasing audiences and its burgeoning ‘don’t miss’ reputation, FrightFest moved home to Screen One of the Odeon West End, Leicester Square in 2005 and staged the LAND OF THE DEAD premiere. 2006 found FrightFest having to move again to the larger Screen Two auditorium in the Odeon West End and extending its event length from four to five days. This was a banner year with second only screening of PAN’S LABYRINTH after its Cannes Film Festival debut. Director Guillermo del Toro attending for the second time that year called FrightFest “The Woodstock of Gore” and the audience sang Happy Birthday to David Soul.
2009 marked Film4 FrightFest’s biggest leap in their 10th anniversary year. Moving just a couple of hundred yard across Leicester Square, the festival upgraded to the UK’s largest traditional cinema screen at the Empire Cinema. This heralded the most ambitious line-up of new genre movies ever presented in the heart of London’s glittering West End festival added a second screen with the addition of a discovery strand.
Outside of the main August event FrightFest also stages a Halloween all-nighter, formerly at the ICA, now at the Empire, Leicester Sq, and is host to a regular two-day event at the Glasgow Film Festival every February. FrightFest also organises special events, which, over the years, have included Dario Argento at the Coronet, DRAG ME TO HELL with Sam Raimi, HOSTEL Day, DEAD DAY, An Evening with Jessica Alba, a Clive Barker discussion panel as well as hosting world premieres of THE DESCENT and in 2010 Chris Smith’s BLACK DEATH.