FrightFest Film Festival - The Alan Jones Blog - 2nd May 07 - The UK'S premiere fantasy and horror film festival
2nd MAY 2007.
Well, behind the scenes at Frightfest it’s all go. Some really exciting stuff is in the planning stages and none of us are in any doubt that this year will be a really banner one. How to keep topping ourselves that’s the challenge but it’s one the four of us consistently aspire to. Can’t wait to announce the line-up in truth, or the many special events, but we have to keep things secret at the moment for various contractual reasons. It will be worth it.
For all you Argento fans the news isn’t good on The Third Mother front. Dario’s long-awaited sequel to Suspiria and Inferno is becoming something of a cause celebre in Italy and is having many ranting column inches devoted to it in the newspapers and magazine’s there. Distributor and producer Medusa reeled in shock at Dario’s first cut of the supernatural shocker that went far beyond any extreme they imagined. Didn’t they read the script? So they sent him back into the editing rooms to make it more ‘mainstream’, i.e. attractive to overseas buyers who they thought wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole in the original version. So far they’ve been right. The problems are all to do with the depiction of perverse sex in the witch gathering satanic scenes and one cannibal killing of a major character.
In my view their reaction completely misses the point. Suspiria was a huge worldwide hit because it broke so many taboos and barriers and is a classic due to Dario’s vivid and masterly interpretation. That’s what his fans want again, not a compromised vision. But, of course, we are now in the post Grindhouse meltdown and investments must be protected. If film companies looked at that scenario properly they would realise the financial folly of trying to make something like Grindhouse mainstream rather than play it in the natural homes of true grindhouse movies. Strange that ace marketers Harvey and Bob Weinstein got that so wrong and we will now have to suffer the stupid damage control of their wrong-headed campaign. Let’s see if the uncut Tarantino version in Cannes goes someway to addressing the fall-out.
Argento is now in a standoff position with Medusa. He’s not one to suffer fools gladly and is prepared to fight his corner. His reputation is still so great in Italy that it will be an interesting face-off. I hope for his sake, and ours, he wins and we see The Third Mother in all its gory and orgy glory.
Speaking of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, I moderated the US DVD commentary of The Burning with director Tony Maylam the other day as mentioned last time. It was the first ever Miramax production, the one that set the brothers on their rise to Hollywood royalty after being successful rock concert promoters. Maylam was a prickly character it must be said but he did reveal all about how he got the Weinstein’s into the film industry with this Friday the 13th clone that became a Video Nasty because of it’s finger-severing raft massacre. Maylam would only talk about this one film. He did not want any other career facts spoken about. His prerogative of course, but I did try and convince him people would be interested in what he’d been up to for the last 25 years. Why did he only make this one, very successful horror film for example? My argument cut no ice though, so admittedly highly interesting facts about the making of The Burning was the sum total.
I found myself on the Heathrow set of the horror movie Mum and Dad just after conducting that commentary. It’s the first of a series from the Microwave fund, a brand new initiative for London-based filmmakers to produce feature films on a maximum £100,000 budget. I was so taken by the page-turning script, written by director Steven Sheil, a massive Argento fan, that I really wanted to cover what I think could be a very exciting project. Best described as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre if directed by Mike Leigh, it’s a terrific ally tense tale of a deranged family abducting immigrant airport workers and torturing them into becoming part of their murderously dysfunctional unit. Sheil told me it was his take on the Freddie Francis cult classic Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly crossed with Pete Walker’s Frightmare. Don’t try and tell me that doesn’t get your interest perked either! Containing truly unique moments of mater-of-fact violence and disgust – I’ll let you imagine what they use as a Christmas tree for the time being - I’m going to keep close track of Mum and Dad and on the clearly talented Sheil.
Hope you all enjoy 28 Weeks Later as much as I did.
Until next time…
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