The UK’s biggest and boldest horror and fantasy film festival is celebrating its 20th bloody year. Since 2000 it has made its indelible mark, not only on the ever-burgeoning horror community but also on the UK genre landscape as a whole. The internationally renowned event leads the way in attesting to the versatility of the genre, its reinvention and its growing importance in the cultural landscape and this year is no exception.

Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 is back at the Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema from Aug 22 – Aug. 26. Hosting a record-breaking seventy-eight films, embracing fourteen countries and spanning six continents, this year’s five-day fear-a-thon includes 20 World, 20 Internation/European and 28 UK Premieres.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

As previously announced, this year’s festivities begin with the UK premiere of Ant Timpson’s deviously edge stunner COME TO DADDY, starring Elijah Wood and reaches its bloody conclusion with the World Premiere of Abner Pastoll’s superbly crafted crime story, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND. Other main screen international attractions include producer Guillermo del Toro and director André Øvredal’s SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, producer Sam Raimi and director Alexandre Aja’s gruesome ‘gator yarn CRAWL, the Radio Silence gang’s lethal thriller READY OR NOT, director Kiah Roache-Turner’s futuristic Ozploitation classic NEKROTRONIC, Pedro C. Alonso’s startling captive chiller FEEDBACK, with a career-defining performance from Eddie Marsan, Kirill Sokolov’s splatterpunk action comedy WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! and Jason Mewes’ insanely brilliant MADNESS IN THE METHOD, starring Mewes, Vinnie Jones, Kevin Smith, Teri Hatcher, Dean Cain and with a final on-screen appearance from Stan Lee.

Making their second, very welcome appearance at the festival will be The Soska Sisters, attending for the World Premiere of RABID, their eagerly anticipated re-imagining of the Cronenberg classic. The sisters will also introduce a special retrospective screening of the original. Also attending is the legendary Dario Argento, here for a special screening of his giallo masterpiece TENEBRAE. He’ll also be in conversation with Festival co-director Alan Jones and signing copies of his autobiography, ‘Fear’, which Jones has adapted and edited. More attending guests will be announced later this month.

Rabid

FrightFest’s 20th year sees the return of directorial alumni like Adam Egypt Mortimer with his provocative psychological horror DANIEL ISN’T REAL, Christian Alvart with his twisted blockbuster CUT-OFF, Lucky McKee with the startling KINDRED SPIRITS, starring Thora Birch, Joe Begos with his terror trip BLISS, Larry Fessenden with DEPRAVED, a post-modern take on the Frankenstein legend, Padraig Reynolds with belligerent creature feature DARK LIGHT, producer Eli Roth with the grindhouse-inspired HAUNT, The Pierce Brothers’ bring us their chiller THE WRETCHED, Dan Bush is back with seat-edge shocker THE DARK RED, Jordan ‘Zombeavers’ Rubin teases us with tongue-in-chic horror comedy THE DRONE and ‘Level 16’ director Danishka Esterhazy gives us her fun-packed body-counter THE BANANA SPLITS. There is also the UK premiere of GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR, the directorial debut from returning producer Travis Stevens and DARLIN’, the directorial debut of past FrightFest ‘darling’ Pollyanna McIntosh. Plus, those fur balls with teeth are back. CRITTERS ATTACK!, with original star Dee Wallace, will enjoy its European Premiere.

FrightFest continues to present the films that are currently shaking up the genre scene and allowing it to transform and continually excite. Like Michael Goi’s MARY starring Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer, the inventive EAT BRAINS LOVE from Rodman Flender, Seann William Scott’s stunning serial killer turn in BLOODLINE, Chelsea Stardust’s hilarious SATANIC PANIC, the unforgettable coming-of-ager KNIVES AND SKIN, THE BLACK STRING, marking the comeback of Frankie Muniz, Kelola Racela’s lustfully demonic PORNO, the incredible animation attraction TO YOUR LAST DEATH, Emma Tammi’s critically acclaimed THE WIND, Fernando Alle’s Troma-inspired MUTANT BLAST, and the two craziest Midnight Movies you will ever see – Valeri Milev’s fabulously inventive BULLETS OF JUSTICE and Fabricio Bittar’s Brazilian gorefest GHOST KILLERS VS. BLOODY MARY.

The genre scene in the UK continues to innovate and thrive, reflected in this year’s FIRST BLOOD strand. Life coaches become dead coaches in Staten Cousins-Poe’s gem of a feature debut A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE and Graham Hughes’ viral mockumentary DEATH OF A VLOGGER, give the found footage format a much-needed shot in the arm. Then there’s Samuel Gridley’s darkly funny CRIMINAL AUDITION, Magnus Wake’s cleverly plotted and heart-pounding DARK SENSE and making up the fearsome five is Fredi Nwaka’s ARE WE DEAD YET, a cleverly crafted supernatural comedy-crime thriller.

Other home-grown selections include the European premiere of TALES FROM THE LODGE Abigail Blackmore’s postmanteau shocker, starring Mackenzie Crook and Johnny Vegas, Carl Strathe’s disturbing DARK ENCOUNTER, starring Laura Fraser and Alice Lowe, and the world premiere of Charlie Steeds’ flesh-eating horror THE BARGE PEOPLE. There are also world premieres for Justin Edgar’s nail-biting suspense thriller STALKED (AKA ‘Unseen’), Tom Paton’s heightened horror STAIRS and producer/director Lawrie Brewster’s FOR WE ARE MANY, in which directors from around the world unleash a legion of demons. And let’s not forget director Jack McHenry, who makes a welcome return with his crowd-pleasing HERE COMES HELL, which made huge waves at the Glasgow edition earlier this year.

Bloodline

Over the years FrightFest has showcased the best genre films Canada has to offer and this year a special strand has been created – ‘Canadian Chills’ – to highlight an exceptional bumper crop, which, apart from RABID, embraces the International premiere of Colin Miniham and director Kurtis David Harder’s smart chiller SPIRAL and the UK premieres of Tony Dean Smith’s sci-fi mind-bender VOLITION, Ray Xue’s entertainingly nasty EXTRACURRICULAR, starring Luke Goss, Chad Archibald’s deadly thriller I’LL TAKE YOUR DEAD, Cameron Macgowan’s dark comedy chiller RED LETTER DAY and Jordan Barker’s unrelenting assault of pure terror, WITCHES IN THE WOODS. Then there are World Premieres for Jay Dahl’s malevolent HALLOWEEN PARTY and Braden Croft’s compelling TRUE FICTION. Completing the line-up are Zack Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s FrightFest Glasgow hit FREAKS, the International Premiere of Rob Grant’s sick, sea-faring adventure HARPOON and the UK premiere of the sinister and challenging HAPPY FACE, this year’s Duke Mitchell presentation.

Another country with a fine FrightFest pedigree is Argentina and this year is no exception; with the World Premiere of producer Javier Diment’s chilling chamber piece ROCK, PAPER AND SCISSORS, plus the European premiere of Herman Finding’s IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES and the UK premiere of Pablo Pares’ apocalyptic powerhouse I AM TOXIC.

The global cabinet of fear holds more…Tunisia is represented for the first time with the UK premiere of DACHRA, an intense folk horror that has broken box office records in North Africa and Japan offers up a forgotten musical cult gem from 1985 – THE LEGEND OF THE STARDUST BROTHERS. Ireland’s entry is Paddy Murphy’s THE PERISHED. Mixing horror and pertinent social issues, the film marks the debut of a new Irish genre voice.

Further indie discoveries on the monstrous menu are: Australian chase chiller THE FURIES, the elegantly scary THE SONATA, social media shocker DEADCON, DRIVEN, a smart, meter-running battle against evil, Eric Pennycroft’s brooding SADISTIC INTENTIONS, with Larry Fessenden, the horrifying Christmas cracker I TRAPPED THE DEVIL, the quirky, cutting FINGERS and THE DEEPER YOU DIG, a Coen-Brothers-esque story of grief and survival from Toby Poser and John Adams.

Documentary lovers will enjoy Dima Ballin’s THE MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION OF MICHAEL REEVES, charting the life and early death of the man who gave us WITCHFINDER GENERAL and two documentaries from director David Gregory, MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS, an in-depth look at the talents of Dan Curtis, the ‘King of TV horror’ and SICK! SAVAGE! SENSUAL! THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON, which tells the bizarre and grim demise of one of Hollywood’s exploitation bad boys.

Dachra

In a first for FrightFest, there will be a special preview of MAN OF MEDAN, the first game in The Dark Pictures anthology. This will be followed by a Q&A session with the key development talent behind the game. The much anticipated interactive narrative horror adventure, developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe, brings supernatural horror on board a ghost-ship adrift in the South Pacific. It is set to be released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Aug 30, 2019.

Festival co-director Alan Jones, said “Over the last two decades we have tirelessly introduced our committed audiences to every trend, every new talent and every innovation that has put horror back in the collective cinephile conscious. Even after 20 years. FrightFest’s August event remains a key destination to see the latest genre movies in the manner for which they were made – on the Big Screen surrounded by fellow fear-mongers. Remember, it’s our party and we’ll scream if we want to!”

This year’s guest list, special events and the Short Film Showcase will be announced in the coming weeks. Festival passes are now on sale and can be purchased HERE. Single tickets will go on sale Saturday, July 20 at 9am. For full program details visit http://www.frightfest.com.uk/.

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Shannon McGrew

Founder/Editor-in-Chief at Nightmarish Conjurings
Shannon is the Founder of Nightmarish Conjurings and a lover of all things horror and haunt related. When she's not obsessively collecting all things "Trick 'R Treat" related, or trying to convince everyone that "Hereditary" is one of the greatest horror films ever made, you can find her designing interiors for commercial restaurants. An avid haunt fan, Shannon spends the entire year visiting haunts and immersive experiences throughout the Southern California area and hopes to one day design her own haunted attraction.
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