Day 3 delivered the goods with previews of the Norwegian found-footage monster movie Troll Hunter and the big-budget 3D remake of Fright Night; and exclusive premieres of Robin Hardy’s religious satire The Wicker Tree, social networking shocker Panic Button, grisly survival horror The Woman, and the schlocky spoof Chillerama.
There were also lots of tasty treats, including sneak previews of the upcoming Knights of Badassdom (which looks a lot of fun) and the British tongue-in-cheek horror Strippers vs Werewolves. But here are my highlights of the day.
Although the found-footage genre is getting a bit tired, I was looking forward to Troll Hunter, and I’m glad I saw it. Three wannabe Michael Moore-type filmmakers find themselves joining Norway’s only troll hunter as he tracks down the biggest, baddest daddy of all troll-dom that has broken out of its government sanctioned reserve, causing other equally-monstrous trolls to move into populated areas. The three naive college students soon get a lesson in survival, as they have to outrun these fabled creatures – that can turn to stone or explode when exposed to sunlight. Surprisingly, it’s not as cheesy as I expected, with a witty script, well observed characters, exhilarating story, and great special effects. The trolls even look like they have stepped out of an illustrated fairy tale book, while the Three Billy Goats Gruff tale comes to life, which makes the whole experience all the more fantastic.
THE WICKER TREE
Probably the most eagerly awaited film for classic British horror fans was The Wicker Tree, Robin Hardy’s belated follow up to his cult 1970s film The Wicker Man. For some, treading the same ground is a bit sancrosant, but I went in with an open mind and I’ve come out converted to Hardy’s new take. Neither sequel or remake, Wicker Tree (based on Hardy’s novel Cowboys for Christ) is very much it’s own film. Gospel singer Beth and her cowboy boyfriend Steve head out of Texas to spread the word of the Lord in godless Scotland. But the chaste singer and her fiancé are unaware that their purity makes them the perfect candidates for an ancient rite. A local Laird’s plans to offer them up as a sacrifice to a pagan god in a bid to make the local population fertile again (an accident at a nuclear power plant contaminated the local water leaving everyone barren.) Blackly comic, with wildly eccentric characters, The Wicker Tree is a keenly-observed satire that belongs to a different time – it reminded me of Lindsay Anderson’s 1970s offbeat comedy Brittania Hospital. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but its so curiously quirky and deftly-written that it deserves a look, even by die-hard fans of the original.
Fright Night – 3D
If you thought the original 1980s version was just great popcorn nonsense, then expect the same second-time round. Colin Farrell does little but bare his fangs and sexy chest as the vampire who moves next door to Anton Yelchin’s Charlie Brewster, while David Tennant steals the show as an alcohol-fuelled Vegas stage magician whom Charlie seeks out to dispatch his neighbour from Hell. The original Evil Ed character is still hard to beat, while Toni Colette is totally wasted as Charlie’s mum. The 3D is hardly noticeable – except when things at thrown at you or when the vampires explode – so it won’t spoil your viewing when it ends up on DVD or TV. It’s fun viewing, but there’s nothing new here. What horrified me more was the soulless suburb where the action takes place, and can I ask just where are the cops when you need them?
This is a great Midnight Movie that I do hope gets a cinema release in this country sometime soon. Irreverent to the point of verging on bad taste, the film spoofs the horror anthology with four films being shown at a drive-in that is due to close down. While the patrons munch down their popcorn, infected with zombie blood, the tales (each by a different director) are spooled for the first and last time. Wadzilla spoofs the 1950s drive-in classic The Blob as a giant sperm invades New York; I Was a Teenage Werebear turns Grease into a gay musical; The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is filmed in the style of 1930s Universal classic horrors with Hitler creating his own monster (wickedly funny); and The Defecator is just hot moist madness. Wickedly funny. John Waters would be most pleased.
Also shown today…