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FrightFest 2013: Frightful findings

Screen reports from the two-day FrightFest event, which took place during Glasgow Film Festival from Feb 22-23 and included premieres of Byzantium [pictured] and Aftershock.

Now in its eighth year as part of Glasgow Film Festival, this past weekend saw Film4 FrightFest descend upon Glasgow for two days of gore, giveaways and guests.

Both days were kicked off in fine style: day one with Michael Stephenson’s often hilarious and surprisingly affecting The American Scream, following three families as they set up their annual haunted houses for Halloween; while day two saw the retrospective premiere of the US version of Mario Bava’s anthology Black Sabbath, introduced in engaging style as ever by festival co-director Alan Jones.

But the hits didn’t stop there as both days delivered marquee screenings.

Neil Jordan’s sumptuous vampire thriller Byzantium received its European premiere near the end of day one, followed by an enjoyable Q&A with the director, producer Stephen Woolley and stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, during which Ronan perfected a Scottish accent.

And day two delivered not one, but two big guns in the form of the UK premieres of ambitious horror anthology The ABCs of Death - going down a storm with the crowd delivering an instant verdict after each short - and Nicolás López’s bleak earthquake-set horror Aftershock.

The ABCs of Death was introduced by composer Simon Boswell leading the crowd in a rendition of The Jackson 5 (we’ll leave you to guess the song), while Aftershock was followed by probably one of the most entertaining Q&As in FrightFest history - let alone the Glasgow strand - with producer, co-writer and star Eli Roth, Lopez and the film’s star Lorenza Izzo.

Izzo - who immediately endeared herself to the crowd by wearing a Shining t-shirt borrowed from Roth - is soon to star in Roth’s episode of Netflix series Hemlock Grove and his next film, The Green Inferno. Based on her great performance in Aftershock, it’s easy to see why.

Yet it’s not just the films that attract a sold-out crowd to Glasgow’s GFT every year, and it’s not even the free Texas Chainsaw 3D t-shirts (given out on day one) nor the copious poster giveaways, frequently prompting mass surges akin to a horror film. FrightFest always manages to deliver additional surprises among the programme.

Highlights of this year included a first European look at new footage from the Evil Dead remake (looking more and more promising by the minute) and Roth appearing before The Bay on day two to introduce a The Last Exorcism Part II trailer.

Also scattered throughout the programme, in a first for FrightFest, was the full series of Tommy Wirkola’s black comedy noir Hellfjord (picked up for UK distribution during the festival), with the final two episodes bringing a climax to FrightFest a little after 1am on Sunday [Feb 24] morning.

And with that the gore dried up… until August that is.

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