Ashtray Dirt v.14

And we’re back! A brief week off for FrightFest (which was excellent by the way, you can read Josh’s overview here) has left lots of stuff to catch up on so here it goes…

Austin-based festival Fantastic Fest has announced its second wave of programming which includes Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England, Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano and Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play In Hell. The latest additions can be read here, along with the 16 projects selected for the new Fantastic Film Market that have also been announced. The festival runs from September 19th-26th…

Ti West’s new feature The Sacrament has had its first retro-looking poster dropped ahead of its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8th…

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The line up for Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams horror film festival has been revealed. Special guest Frank Henenlotter will introduce screenings of his films Basket Case and Frankenhooker, whilst films playing include Motivational Growth, The Battery, Big Bad Wolves and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears. The full schedule and tickets prices can be found on the website

The full directorial line-up for ABC’s of Death 2 has been revealed. Those involved include Rodney Ascher (Room 237), the Soska sisters (American Mary), Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter), Vincenzo Natali (Cube) and E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills). A competition to find the 26th director is also happening…

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Director Ted Post passed away on August 20th. Mostly working in television, Post was known for directing the films Hang Em High, Magnum Force and Beneath The Planet Of The Apes…

Arrow have announced they are releasing Jack Hill’s Pit Stop in 2014…

Criterion have announced their Winter releases which include Richard Linklater’s Slacker, Georges Franju’s Eyes Without A Face and Lewis Allen’s The Uninvited

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights have announced all their scare attractions for this year’s events in Los Angeles and Orlando. Orlando will be getting An American Werewolf in London, Cabin In The Woods and Resident Evil themed mazes whilst Los Angeles will be getting Evil Dead, Insidious and The Walking Dead…

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Julie Harris, star of 1963’s The Haunting, passed away on August 24th…

Manchester’s Grimmfest have announced their full line-up for this year’s festival taking place between 2nd-6th October. Films playing include The Borderlands, Stalled, My Amityville Horror and Wither. Tickets can be bought on the official website here

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Frightfest 2013 Round Up

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So, we come out of another 5 days, hungover, malnourished, and emptied wallets.

Flicking through our heads are a million stills grabbed from the frames that flashed across our eyes.

The boys behind the beast that is Film 4 Frightfest have delivered a bumper year, a solid mixed bag of genre cinema.

If Frightfest is as much about the films as the hanging out and chatting about them while you neck another pint at the often overwhelmed Imperial, it’s a wonderful thing when these films flow out, without causing a controversy.

Last years saw Frightfest get slammed for what some called “Rapefest” opening with a series of mean spirited and harsh films falling solidly into that ever dangerous sub-genre of Rape/Revenge. This year, it would appear that the team listened to and responded to last year’s angry voices and opened the festival with a string of films inhabited by strong female characters, both Curse of Chucky and You’re Next immediately corrected the slips of 2012, and in doing so, set a tone of easy enjoyment and lighthearted adventure from the dark heart of cinema.

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As for the films themselves, it was indeed a mixed bag. A dreadful opener, The Dead 2: India, offered no advancements in what you can only hope is a dead franchise. The first Dead, based in Africa, saw a British serviceman try to escape from hordes of African zombies, in what felt like Colonialist propaganda, about a century too late. Laying aside preconceived notions of what The Dead 2: India might hold, was a mistake, since the film was essentially identical, with the exception that it may have managed to be more dull than the first, which is an achievement, given it’s gorgeous locations, none of which highlighted the fact that we were in India. So it was just more brown zombies chasing a white person.

Stupidest zombie escape plan ever

Like it or not, the zombie genre is inherently a sociopolitical genre. Unless you are making Rapid Grannys or Cockneys vs Zombies, the infected, are always the Other. The baddies. And in today’s world, unless you are very very smart, it’s best to make the Others of mixed races and varied political or religious leanings…. Which leads us to the other terrible film of the weekend, unsurprisingly, another zombie film.

Cannon Fodder, a racist, pro IDF,  Birdemic quality CGI shitfest, which if picked up will swiftly end up in the 99p bin. A crack team of the Israeli Defense Force is put together to capture a suspected Hamas chemical warfare scientist, currently in zombie infested Lebanon. That synopsis alone should set off alarm bells, but it gets better when one of the members of the team is actually just an out and out racist, regularly calling his fellow soldier, who happens to be Ethiopian, every possible derogatory term he can come up with, while killing as many “terrorist” zombies as he can, culminating in a Muslim zombie beach massacre.

I’m pretty certain that the overt racism wasn’t actually intended, I suspect that it was a poorly realised attempt at social commentary. Whatever it was, it was shit.

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Fortunately for Israel, Big Bad Wolves came along to save their country’s reputation.  A sleek, wonderfully intelligent, deftly written film. It is in every way a tightly written Korean crime thriller about three men – a police detective, a father who has lost his child, and the man they suspect is a peadophile. Treading a very fine line of dark humour, which sees the film to break down into straight up comedy at times, Big Bad Wolves manages to maintain the tension and sharp social commentary, undermining racism, as well as pack mentality, delivering a hard hitting punch and a steady stream of laughs, which to the writers’ credit translates perfectly across cultures.

Odd

Coming from Mummy director Stephen Sommers, Odd Thomas wasn’t the sort of film one expected very much from. But boiled down to a cheery little film, a network television version of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, which could quite easily run like as a pilot for a TV series, a bit like the original Buffy. Odd Thomas, has some dialogue issues, but the general story, and execution is pleasant enough that all is forgiven as necroscope, Odd tries to prevent a small town massacre. It’s certainly the kind of film which you throw on for a chilled out Friday night. Sweet, kind hearted and I’d be surprised if 75% of the audience didn’t have a tear in their eye.

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One of the real surprises of the festival was The Curse of Chucky, helmed by Chucky creator Don Mancini himself, he intro’d the film saying that he had spent time listening to the fans, reading comments and forums and tried to make a film that the fans wanted. I have to say he succeeded. Curse of Chucky manages to capture the feel of the late 80s horror films, there is no updating it for a modern audience, there’s no filler here, it’s a timeless story of a possessed doll that is out to kill. Nothing is played for laughs, and Chucky’s wit is just wit, not for the sake of a cheap gag. Voiced by Brad Dourif, Chucky stalks and kills with efficiency, pitted against Fiona Dourif it adds that extra level as father tries to kill daughter. Low on the CGI and high on the practical, the lumbering doll is relentless in revenge.

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First time feature director Richard Raaphorst delivered one of the few creature features Frankenstein’s Army, a WWII found footage film, where a Russian squad of soldiers discover Frankenstein’s grandson has carried on the family’s work and crafted an army of mech monsters. A film of 3 parts, the first being the establishment of the team, the second being the discovery and interaction with the monsters the final being the part they needed to end the film, but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it right. Basically someone came up with Part 2 and sandwiched it in between the other parts. And Part 2 is pretty good, stellar creature design, you just wish they knew what to do with all the fantastic monsters.

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Without doubt one of the finest films of the festival was You’re Next, Adam Wingard’s home invasion film with a solid stalk and kill spin. Opening with some of the finest dialogue and family interaction/chaos you are likely to ever see on screen, it quickly turns into an unrelenting hour of unrelenting terror. Delivering modern horror’s most proficient final girl to date.

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For me, however, the stand out film was Demon’s Rook. Crammed on the teeny tiny Discovery 2 screen, 50 seats in total, I was lucky to get in on the first screening, hovering by the door waiting for an empty seat something made me want to see this film. And by god was it worth it!! A majestic tribute to an era of film that while much loved, was unlikely to ever be recaptured properly. Those late 80s VHS demon flicks were always a ride of practical effects and fog machines. Unlike recent attempts at homage, like Hobo With a Shotgun, or Tarantino’s efforts, Demon’s Rook, never winks or chuckles at it’s roots. It isn’t knowing, it’s honest and genuine with it’s love and passion. One look at the director’s IMDB page, here, will show you that this is a passion project of epic proportions. Demon’s Rook is the story of a young boy, Roscoe, who is lured away from his parents and trained in the ways of the good demons for some 15 years (yes, how awesome is that!?), before accidentally unleashing the evil demons on the world and being forced into battle before they turn his small town into hell on earth. Along the way we are treated to some of the finest examples of the undead since Zombie Flesh Eaters, a 6 tittied demoness sturring up an orgy, a mongoloid man-demon, more practial effects, dry ice machines and red, green, and blue colour gels than you could ever hope for. Think Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, I would expect to see more from James Sizemore, I just hope he keeps his heart in the right place.

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Demon’s Rook is exactly the reason I go to Frightfest and see films I have never heard of before. Purchasing a pass for £170 allows you to wander in and out of films with abandon. When you get the programme, you look over it and decide what you would like to see, if you purchase tickets based on that, you miss the adventure, the fun, the risk, the cinemadventures. While you are outside, you will run into me, and I will rave about a film you had not noticed or disregarded and you will have the freedom, to wander off and see it. Sometimes you make a mistake, and are eye raped by Cannon Fodder or put to sleep by The Dead 2, but like every search all of the backaches, blisters, callouses, and scraped knuckles are worth it when you accidentally stumble into a film like Demon’s Rook and spend the next 90 minutes with a shit eating grin and repeatedly saying “holy fuck!!!” under your breath.

Cinema is fun. It is required. It is not sitting at home, streaming, or watching something on your TV. It’s watching a film in a dark room full of people, clapping, cheering, crying, screaming, and discussing it afterwards over a pint. And that is exactly what Frightfest is.

Onto 2014. 

– Josh Saco

Ashtray Dirt V.12

Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams have announced the first films playing at this October’s horror festival. Taking place from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th, Screams will play host to the UK premiere of Brian Netto’s Delivery, as well as screening Jeremy Gardner’s The Battery, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s Big Bad Wolves and a selection of work from claymation filmmaker Lee Hardcastle. Passes go on sale September 20th…

The line up for this years Toronto International Film Festival has been announced, with highlights including The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, Ti West’s The Sacrament, Lucky McKee’s All Cheerleaders Die and the world premiere of Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno. The full line up can be read on the official website

A poster and trailer have dropped for Marvel’ s Thor: The Dark World, which is released in the UK on October 30th…

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The line up for this year’s nationwide Scalarama month is now up over at the official website

Arrow have announced release dates for a Blu-ray version of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, out on September 30th, and a dual-format release of Squirm, out on September 16th…

Sam Rockwell is rumoured to be in talks to star opposite confirmed lead Rosemarie DeWitt in the Poltergeist remake…

A new international trailer has dropped for James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2, which hints at the troubled childhood of Patrick Wilson’s character Josh Lambert…


The live action remake of Akira is back on with director Jaume Collett-Serra (Taken) attached, a rumoured much lower budget and a shooting date of the end of 2014…

Paul Greengrass’ latest feature Captain Philips has been announced as the opening film for this year’s London Film Festival

Hot off the announcement of its world premiere at this years TIFF, a set of pictures have been released for Eli Roth’s latest directorial effort The Green Inferno. The film is described as ‘a group of college students take their humanitarian protest from New York to the Amazon jungle, only to get kidnapped by the native tribe they came to save: a tribe that still practices the ancient rite of cannibalism, and has a healthy appetite for intruders’. The Green Inferno currently has no release date…

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Ashtray Dirt Part 8

First up, the first theatrical poster for Israeli revenge thriller Big Bad Wolves has dropped. The film will be closing this years Film4 FrightFest in August…

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Hot on the poster news comes the first one sheet image for Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake. Not quite the poster I’m guessing many fans were expecting (it does look rather like a Robbie Williams album cover, no?), the image is apparently an actual shot from a film and not a composite image. This week also saw the first red band trailer for the film released which you can see below and judge for yourselves on whether you think it’ll stand up to the original film. Starring Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson and Elizabeth Olson, Oldboy is released in the UK in December…

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Eli Roth’s year round haunted house attraction Goretorium has filed for bankruptcy…

Manchester horror festival Grimmfest have announced this years festival dates and two of the films they are playing. The festival will run between 3rd and 6th October and playing so far will be Hansel and Gretel Get Baked (starring Lara Flynn Boyle and Yancy Butler) and Jugface (starring Sean Young and Larry Fessenden, exec produced by Lucky McKee). The festival’s full line up will be released soon…

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Arrow have announced they will be releasing Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill on Blu-ray on July 29th. Restored Blu-ray editions of Sisters, Phantom Of The Paradise and The Fury will follow later this year and early next year…

The Barbican have announced two Live Live Cinema events for October 20th this year. Herk Harvey’s zombie classic Carnival Of Souls and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dementia 13 will be screened with live music and sound effects courtesy of New Zealand musician Leon Radojkovic and his band of actors and musicians. Tickets are currently on sale and can be bought here

A trailer has dropped for documentary Birth Of The Living Dead. Directed by Robert Kuhns, the documentary will follow how director George A. Romero gathered together a bunch of people in Pittsburgh and made the legendary Night Of The Living Dead, drawing on ‘immersing audiences in the singular time in which Night was shot‘. No word yet as to when the film will be released…


The National Theatre of Scotland have adapted Swedish novel and film Let The Right One In into a stage play. The production will open at the Royal Court in December prior to a West End run. What will no doubt be an interesting experience, tickets can be ordered here

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Ashtray Dirt 6(66)

Up first is the new trailer for Israeli release Big Bad Wolves, which was announced last week as the closing film for this years Film4 Frightfest festival. Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papusahdo, the revenge-thriller looks intriguing, brutal and brilliantly shot and will no doubt be a hit at the festival in August…

Arrow have announced their latest limited edition steelbook release, Lucio Fulci’s classic The Beyond, which is exclusive to Zavvi and available to pre-oder now…

Another psychedelic trailer has dropped for Ben Wheatley’s new picture A Field In England. The film is released across all platforms next Friday, July 5th…

Director David Lynch is reportedly collaborating with Trent Reznor on the next Nine Inch Nails release, Come Back Haunted. Lynch will apparently direct the music video for the new single, the first time the pair have worked together since the soundtrack to Lost Highway

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Actor James Gandolfini sadly passed away this week from a suspected heart attack. The star who was most notable for his lead role in television series The Sopranos, also played a string of supporting characters in films as diverse as True Romance, Zero Dark Thirty, Where The Wild Things Are and The Man Who Wasn’t There…

Birmingham’s Shock and Gore festival have announced their line up for this summers series of events. Running from the 19th to the 15th July, events include screenings of films both new and old from an Evil Dead double bill to recent offering John Dies At The End. The full lineup can be found on the website

More new pictures are emerging from the set of the new Godzilla remake. An underground bunker and a giant crater tease the presence of the titular creature in Gareth Edwards feature slated for release next year…

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Second Sight have revealed the sleeve artwork for their next Blu-ray release, Possession, which is released on July 29th…

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MGM have released an official press release this week confirming many of the rumours surrounding the new Poltergeist remake. The film will be directed by Gil Kenan (Monster House), produced by Sam Raimi and Bob Tapert and will be adapted from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire (Oz: The Great and Powerful). According to the press release, the plot will revolve around ‘a family struggling to make ends meet relocates to an outdated suburban home and is confronted by an angry spirit who kidnaps their youngest daughter and challenges them to band together to rescue her from the clutches of evil’

A set of new images have been released for the next James Wan feature The Conjuring, a creepy tale of paranormal investigators helping out a family living in a haunted house…

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Lastly, author and screenwriter Richard Matheson passed away this week aged 87. Prolific in the horror and science-fiction genres, Matheson wrote the novels I Am Legend, A Stir of Echoes and Hell House, the screenplays for The Devil Rides Out, The Legend of Hell House and The Incredible Shrinking Man and numerous teleplays…

Ashtray Dirt The Fifth

First up this week comes some exciting news from the Film4 FrightFest camp. The poster for this years festival was unveiled this week with artwork by legendary artist Graham Humphreys, as were this years opening and closing films. Kicking off the festival will be The Dead 2: India (directed by Howard and Jon Ford) and closing the weekend festivities will be Israeli revenge thriller Big Bad Wolves (directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, the team behind 2011 FrightFest favourite Rabies). The festivals full line up will be released on 28th June…

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Cineploit have announced their two latest Exploit releases for July. Exploit 03 is Thelema‘s ‘Ephemerol’, a tribute to David Cronenberg’s Scanners, and Exploit 04 will be Zoltan’s tribute to British cult film Psychomania

A new TV spot for the latest James Wan (Saw, Insidious) release The Conjuring has arrived. The film, based on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, promises a scary jump or two…

The Toronto International Film Festival have announced their plans for a multi-platform project based on the works of director David Cronenberg. ‘The Cronenberg Project’ will see a collection of some of the most iconic props on display from across the celebrated director’s filmography in a dedicated exhibition entitled David Cronenberg: Evolution. The Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art will also house an exhibition entitled David Cronenberg: Transformation. Whilst opening in Toronto, the exhibition should become the first TIFF curated piece to tour internationally, with dates apparently to be revealed at the end of the year…

The first poster for Insidious Chapter 2 has dropped, never before have baby walkers evoked such scares…

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The latest vinyl release from cult soundtrack label Death Waltz Recording Co. is on sale now. The terrific score by Rob for the 2012 remake of Maniac is currently available on 3 vinyl editions…

First on-site pictures of actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have emerged from the set of Gareth Edwards (Monsters) Godzilla remake. Rumours are circulating that the film will bring more than just the giant famed lizard in terms of creatures with the latest press release from Legendary Pictures stating; ‘Featuring spectacular creatures, thrilling action, epic battles and a legendary monster, Godzilla provides the backbone for a monstrous merchandise offering for fans of all ages and enables compelling cross-category opportunities across mass and specialty’. Production on the movie has now moved to Hawaii and is slated for a May 2014 release…