FrightFest was conceived by Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Alan Jones and staged its first event in 2000 at the Prince Charles cinema, off 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 reputation as a must-attend event, FrightFest moved home to Screen One of the Odeon West End, Leicester Square in 2005 and staged the LAND OF THE DEAD premiere, with legendary icon George Romero in attendance. 2006 found FrightFest having to move again to the larger Screen Two auditorium in the Odeon West End and extending its length from four to five days. A banner year with the 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".
2009, the festivals 10th anniversary, marked FrightFest's biggest leap so far. Moving just a couple of hundred yards across Leicester Square, the festival upgraded to the UK's largest traditional cinema screen at the Empire Cinema. The move heralded the most ambitious line-up of new genre movies presented to date. Additional screens soon followed plus the addition of the popular Discovery strand.
After five years at the Empire Cinema where additional films and extra screenings were added, FrightFest was on the move again, this time 100 yards along Leicester Square to the VUE, West End, a state of the art multiplex. There FrightFest settled into five of the cinema's nine screens. Taking advantage of the additional space FrightFest expanded again increasing the number of films featured to over 70.
In 2017 after a year in West London where the festival latest initiative aimed at new first-time British directors, First Blood joined the line-up the festival moved back to the heart of London taking up residence at the Cineworld and Prince Charles Cinemas were the event has remained ever since.
Outside of the main August event FrightFest also stages a Halloween extravaganza and hosts a regular two-day terror-thon at the Glasgow Film Festival every February. FrightFest also organises special events. Over the years they have included Dario Argento at the Coronet, DRAG ME TO HELL with Sam Raimi, HOSTEL Day, DEAD Day, An Evening with Jessica Alba, Clive Barker in Discussion, COLD IN JULY with director Jim Mickle. FrightFest has also launched Jake West's two VIDEO NASTIES documentaries and hosted many world premieres. Highlights include Neil Marshall's THE DESCENT, Chris Smith's BLACK DEATH starring Eddie Redmayne and in 2017 CULT OF CHUCKY which was streamed worldwide to millions of viewers.
In further ventures, FrightFest has teamed up with FAB Press to publish a series of 'The FrightFest Guide To…" books and has an exclusive partnership with Signature Entertainment to release films under the festival's thriving 'FrightFest Presents' label.