Dr. Lauren & Darren’s FrightFest Glasgow 2020: Part Three – Saturday

Dr. Lauren McIntyre (right) is a horror obsessive, natural Goth and cat wrangler who will ramble on incessantly about death if you let her. You can say hi to her on Twitter @noddinggoth

Darren Gaskell (left) is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer who is unable to think of a creative social media handle. He will ramble on incessantly about the film Miracle Mile if you let him. You can say hi to him on Twitter @darren_gaskell (see what I mean about the social media handle?)

Dr. Lauren and Darren travelled to Glasgow for this year’s FrightFest and in between film screenings and alcoholic beverages they took time out to record their thoughts on the movies at this year’s fest.

In this final part, there are technical issues, whisky shots and arse-based shenanigans. Darren loses his shit, Dr. Lauren grabs a selfie with Joe Begos and our reviewers both confess to a crush on the same person. Now read on…

*** THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS – MASSIVE SPOILERS IN THE CASE OF NIGHTMARE RADIO – AND AGAIN IT’S A BIT SWEARY ***

Darren: Saturday! First movie – Anderson Falls. Or was it Anderson Falls?

Dr. Lauren: It was not Anderson Falls.

Darren: We had a problem with Anderson Falls. The print of the movie wouldn’t play correctly. In its place they pushed up…

A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO

FrightFest said: ” As the host of a popular horror-themed radio show, disc jockey Rod Wilson shares tales of terror with his eager listeners. But tonight the announcer begins to receive strange calls from a child who desperately asks for help. At first he thinks it’s a bad joke until he discovers the calls hide a dark secret… “

[This particular conversation was recorded immediately after Darren came out of the Nightmare Radio screening rather than the morning after the films were shown. He seemed a bit cranky but Dr. Lauren wasn’t to know just how cranky until a little later on…]

Darren: This is an anthology about a guy who hosts a late-night radio horror story show.

Dr. Lauren: It’s very much in the vein of A Christmas Horror Story but not as good.

Darren: Where do I start? It’s one of those movies that’s patched together from previously existing shorts so the first story we’d already seen at Celluloid and it’s about a girl who takes photographs of dead people…

Dr. Lauren: Oh, had we seen that one?

Darren: Yeah!

Dr. Lauren: I don’t remember that. I did enjoy it though.

Darren: That was one of the better ones. Later on, there was The Disappearance Of Willie Bingham which is really good but very, very grim. There was a problem though when we got to a Spanish short about a dancer. It started off with Spanish dialogue….and continued with Spanish dialogue with no subtitles.

Dr. Lauren: I think there’s been quite a few technical issues this morning. Fair play to all the staff at FrightFest and the GFT for doing their best in trying to sort it out. Hats off to you guys.

Darren: Absolutely. Well done to all of you. Must have been a nightmare [this was an entirely unironic comment].

Dr. Lauren: So there was a break in Nightmare Radio part way through the Spanish short film, at which point I just….left. I didn’t think I was interested enough to carry on watching the whole film.

Darren: Maybe I should have gone at that point too.

Dr. Lauren: No, no. It’s good that you finished watching it. One of us had to.

Darren: You had a break. I had more of a psychotic break with the last bit of the film. From the point where it restarted the quality dipped seriously. I just could not wait for it to be it over. Maybe it was partly to do with the technical problems but mostly it was because I’d absolutely fucking had enough of it by the end.

Dr. Lauren: Wow.

Darren: There’s a short at the end, it’s a British one about a home invasion. It boils down to two minutes of this woman trying to get hold of a set of keys on the floor behind an open door and she’s crawling around and I’m thinking “FUCKING HELL! JUST PUSH THE FUCKING DOOR OPEN, WOMAN!”. I mean, for fuck’s sake…

[At this point Dr. Lauren is being sympathetic but is also trying hard not to laugh]

Darren: I think my patience had worn very, very thin with the film by that time.

Dr. Lauren: Maybe I can probably cast a more critical eye over it than you at this point.

Darren: I’m just…..emotional at the moment. I want to go and break things now.

Dr. Lauren: The short about the little girl and the photography – I really liked that. The costumes were amazing, I wanted to own all of them. Willie Bingham – really, really good but we’d seen that before. The bad part for me about this is I felt the connecting story with the guy in the radio station was just weak and the performances were not great. The radio guy was playing super smug but his performance was not very strong at all.

Darren: Hipster douche.

[Darren, still very annoyed, then does a bad impersonation of the guy’s radio voice]

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, I’m sorry but it wasn’t for me.

Darren: The reveal at the end why the radio host was there…

Dr. Lauren: Oh, what was it?

{REALLY SPOILERY BIT COMING UP]

Darren: By this point I couldn’t really give a shit but I think it’s this. The radio station’s been disused for ages but he killed somebody there and it comes to life every so often so he can do the radio programme…what a fucking load of bunk that was.

Dr. Lauren: No. Not convinced. In its defence I’m quite glad we didn’t end the festival on it.

Darren: Yeah, because Anderson Falls looks like it might be some good [watch to see what happens with this one later]. Kudos to the people here because it must have been a horrible scenario with the print failing and everything. It’s genuinely beyond their control and these things happen. Probably didn’t help the film overall with the stops and starts but even so it wouldn’t have worked for me anyway. I wouldn’t have liked it that much if it had played straight through. I thought the second half was rubbish.

Dr. Lauren: For anyone who’s still considering checking it out, if you liked Nightmare Cinema it’s in a very similar vein so maybe you should give it a shot. If you did not like Nightmare Cinema then avoid.

Darren: That’s fair, I can see that. I’m probably not in the best place right now. Maybe the next film will cleanse the palette and I can calm down.

[Note: It did and he did.]

ZOMBIE FOR SALE

FrightFest said: ” Korea’s biggest pharmaceutical company conducts illegal experiments on humans. One test goes wrong and creates a sexy zombie who escapes and winds up with the crazy Park family, owners of a country gas station. But when the head of the household is bitten, it restores his youth, so they monetise Zzong-bie’s powers to help their struggling business. Events take a grisly turn for the worse… “

Darren: Next movie after Nightmare Radio was Zombie For Sale about a family which looks into the commercial potential of a zombie which they’ve come across and captured.

Dr. Lauren: This was really fun. I was there from the get-go. I love a biological experiment gone wrong. It hit a fun tone immediately and then just ran with it.

Darren: Very good horror comedy, plenty of fun. A couple of people said it was slightly too long and I get that.

Dr. Lauren: It was slightly too long, a bit saggy in the middle. Maybe it could have done with about a quarter of an hour taking out of it. It got a bit lost where the property was being besieged but other than that it’s great and a slightly different take on the zombie genre. I feel like zombies have been done to death now.

Darren: Same here.

Dr. Lauren: It takes a lot for me to watch a zombie film now but I’m glad I watched that. Did you see there was a sneaky Train To Busan reference?

Darren: Yes! There was. It’s nice that there’s a wink to another Korean zombie movie. Well worth a watch. There’s loads and loads of crappy, derivative zombie films out there but this is a bit different.

Dr. Lauren: And it’s funny as well.

Darren: It is. It’s certainly played for laughs and it gets most of them.

SAINT MAUD

FrightFest said: ” Recently Born Again, Maud is a young Scarborough nurse, visibly disintegrating both mentally and emotionally as she strives for religious salvation from the demons plaguing her. Put in charge of caring for hedonistic dancer Amanda, now in the late stages of a terminal illness, Maud believes redemption is at hand. For if Maud can rescue Amanda’s soul then surely she can save herself?”

Darren: So from something funny to something not funny at all. Rose Glass’ debut about a healthcare worker who goes to care for a dying dancer who’s played by Jennifer Ehle.

Dr. Lauren: I thought this was great. Really interesting. As far as I know it’s had quite a lot of hype online, to be honest I think it’s justified. I’d be interested to know what the Scarborough Tourist Board thinks of it.

Darren: I don’t think the film mentions Scarborough by name but anyone who knows it is going to instantly recognise it. It’s portrayed as, well, a shithole really. A fair bit of it is this character wandering around this really scuzzy town.

Dr. Lauren: It’s an interesting take on mental health from the point of view of the person who’s suffering from those issues. It’s sensitively done.

Darren: There’s a pretty massive jump scare about [this bit’s been edited because Darren mentioned where exactly it was like a big feckin’ eejit].

Dr. Lauren: Don’t spoil it!

Darren: We can edit that out [yes. it has been because Darren was a big feckin’ eejit]. As a first feature…

Dr. Lauren: Really impressive. Brilliant lead performance.

Darren: Yeah, Morfydd Clark. She’s excellent.

Dr. Lauren: I’d seen the dancer lady before.

Darren: Yeah, she’s been in loads of stuff. She was in The Camomile Lawn ages ago. I think it was LFF that initially had Saint Maud and everyone who saw it there thought it was great. It sold out here.

Dr, Lauren: It’s not quite what I was expecting. I tend to go into these things quite cold and don’t read up or watch any trailers before. I knew it had a religious thread running through it but I went in fully expecting it to be some sort of possession thing…

Darren: Me too.

Dr. Lauren: …and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t.

Darren: Without giving too much away [oh, now you’re not into the spoilers, Darren!] it heads off in some quite dark and interesting directions. One of the highlights of the weekend for me.

BUTT BOY

FrightFest said: “Middle-aged Chip Gutchell is bored and miserable with his life, until he has a prostate examination and his whole world changes. For he becomes obsessed with putting anything and everything up his butt including living things. Newly sober Detective Russell Fox suspects his AA sponsor is sporting another supernatural dimension in his rear end but even he has no idea the insanity that awaits when he dives into his investigation head first.”

Darren: From something serious and very dark to something almost indescribable in its weirdness. Butt Boy.

Dr. Lauren: I don’t know how I feel about this. I’m still trying to process it.

Darren: Who’s gonna take the synopsis for this one? I mean, it’s just…

Dr. Lauren: A guy finds out he can suck things into his butthole.

Darren: Yeah…

[pause, then Darren cracks up laughing]

Dr. Lauren: There’s not really anything else you can say.

[Darren continues to laugh so Dr. Lauren has to soldier on until he collects himself]

Dr. Lauren: I thought it started off quite strongly and was funny early on. If they’d cut it off where the credits started it would have made a perfectly serviceable short film. After that I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It got a lot of laughs and I did laugh quite a lot during it but then talking to other people afterwards it seems as though there were a few people who were quite offended by it. I can totally see why.

[Darren has now stopped giggling and is back in the room]

Darren: It’s kind of out there but weirdly it’s not out there enough. I wanted it to go full bore on everything. There are points when it’s disgusting but it also tries to go for serious comment in the middle, about relationships falling apart and not having kids…

Dr. Lauren: There’s a creepy aspect to it which I didn’t expect. It also seems to come across as slightly homophobic in some ways but I need more time to think about it and I’d be interested to continue reading comments to see what other people made of it.

Darren: Someone I talked to after the screening said they were very close to walking out and that it was one of the worst things they’d ever seen. Apparently it had tested their patience and then some. I don’t think it was because they were offended, it was more to do with them thinking it was so diabolically naff.

Dr. Lauren: The end made me laugh.

Darren: The payoff’s pretty decent. You can see it coming but it’s still good. It just takes too long to get there.

Dr. Lauren: It could have easily had the grimness ramped up so it was more in keeping with something like The Greasy Strangler or The Golden Glove. It wasn’t silly enough to be an out and out comedy.

Darren: Tonally, it’s all over the shop.

Dr. Lauren: It’s gone to the Howard The Duck School Of Filmmaking.

Darren: The early stuff is clearly being played for laughs and then all of a sudden people are attending AA meetings and musing about whether or not life’s worth living. Hold on a minute, a guy was sucking a dog into his butt ten minutes before this! I genuinely don’t know what they were trying to put across.

Dr. Lauren: As I said, it would have been a good comedy short film. Other than that, I’m not sure.

Darren: I’m not convinced either. If you want to see something of the type you’ve never seen before then knock yourself out but I’m not recommending it in terms of quality.

Dr. Lauren: I wouldn’t be in a rush to revisit it.

Darren: Me neither. I’ve seen it once and that’s probably it for me.

VFW

FrightFest said: “Set in the near future, where a designer drug is causing devastation, death and destruction reign supreme. Caught in a deal that goes horrifyingly wrong, innocent Lizard flees to a local VFW post where war veterans begin the ferocious fight with a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of punk mutants. These Vietnam vets have been to hell and back but tonight will be the longest night of their lives.”

Darren: So, the nine o’clock screening was Joe Begos’ VFW.

Dr, Lauren: Yay!

Darren: I’d seen this before so I went hobnobbing* with people while this was on. The only regret I had about not seeing this at FrightFest was not being able to judge the audience reaction which apparently was really good.

Dr. Lauren: The audience reaction was immense. People were 100% on board with this film. Joe Begos was in attendance and had people do whisky shots with him before the film. He basically turned up with a bag full of whisky and got the audience to come down and so shots with him, which was ace.

Darren: I would have been so up for that. I’m slightly jealous now.

Dr. Lauren: I was tempted but I had a massive glass of wine so I thought “These two things are not going to mix”.

Darren: I’d have been straight down. I’d have been climbing over people.

Dr. Lauren: There was a massive rush, like a rugby scrum, with people trying to get to the booze.

Darren: If you’ve seen Assault On Precinct 13 it’ll give you a strong hint as to what you’re going to get with VFW. Drugs go missing, the person who stole them turns up at a bar, the bad guys go after that person and the good guys in the bar have to fend them off for the film.

Dr. Lauren; Joe, in his Q&A, described it as being like The Expendables but where you actually care about them.

Darren: That’s a perfect summary.

Dr. Lauren: All the performances were pretty solid, whether it was veteran actors like Fred Williamson and William Sadler or relative newcomers like Sierra McCormick.

Darren: Obviously I wanted to talk about Dora Madison because I’m a massive fan of Bliss. And I’m a bit in love with Dora Madison.

Dr. Lauren: I have a huge girl crush on Dora Madison.

Darren: Every film needs Dora Madison in it from now on.

Dr. Lauren: I think you mentioned it just after the screening that one slight criticism of it is that she could have been in it more.

Darren: She’s one of the stronger characters because a lot of the bad guys don’t get much screen time before they’re blown to bits or chopped up.

Dr. Lauren: Hats off to Graham Skipper.

Darren: Great cast. Stephen Lang, Martin Kove, all these people you’d know from bigger budget movies. I mean, Stephen Lang’s in bloody Avatar.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, and in the Q&A Joe said that originally they were supposed to be shooting for 20 days but they had to cram it into 18 because Stephen Lang got called away for Avatar 2.

Darren: He’s really great in it. Stephen Lang’s always good.

Dr. Lauren: I loved William Sadler.

Darren: William Sadler’s in a slightly different part that he might normally get.

Dr. Lauren: I can only ever think of him as Death in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Darren; There is that. I think of him in stuff like Die Hard 2 where he has more authoritative roles. In this one he’s a stoner. It’s fun and the point is that it does have characters you care about so when bad things happen to them it has more of an impact. I’ll certainly watch it again.

Dr. Lauren: Check it out, definitely.

Darren: It’s a big recommendation from us. Certainly one of the best of the weekend.

Dr. Lauren: You might want to avoid it if you’re not into massive amounts of violence.

Darren: It does push it, yes. The violence isn’t like “someone gets shot once and falls over”. No, people get killed graphically. There’s one point where someone gets deatomised.

Dr. Lauren: Graham.

Darren: Graham gets MVP for the best death.

Dr. Lauren: I’m going to message him about that.

And here’s a pic of Dr. Lauren with VFW director Joe Begos:

ANDERSON FALLS

FrightFest said: “After his wife’s sudden suicide, Detective Jeff Anderson (Shawn Ashmore from the X-MEN franchise) becomes convinced that she has really been murdered. Obsessed with his ongoing investigations, he finds out that she was indeed the victim of a heinous crime. And although no one believes what he’s uncovered, Jeff knows he’ll have to break all the rules and go to horrendous extremes to stop the slaughter of other women.”

Darren: Anderson Falls, which was rescheduled because the original print of it wasn’t working and so it was pushed back to being the last film of the festival rather than the first film of the day. And my review of Anderson Falls is…

[drum roll]

…I didn’t see it.

Dr. Lauren: And neither did I.

Darren: It had been a long day and the beer was calling and we wanted to catch up with people we hadn’t really seen.

Dr. Lauren: Sorry, Anderson Falls. We’ll catch you another time.

Darren: It’s not that I didn’t want to watch it but at the end of the weekend I wanted to hang around with people and have a drink. I’m weak.

Dr. Lauren: We went to the unofficial FrightFest after party,

Darren: Yeah, where I got to terrify poor Adam Stovall with my love for A Ghost Waits. Neat segue into my best of the weekend, which was indeed A Ghost Waits.

Dr. Lauren: My best of the weekend too.

Darren: Top three for me – A Ghost Waits, VFW, Saint Maud.

Dr. Lauren: I’m the same.

Darren: I think it was a much stronger line-up this year. I came last year and there were more films then that were middling. When something like Zombie For Sale isn’t in the top three that’s saying something. It was a great weekend.

Dr. Lauren: And now I need to sleep.

And that’s your lot for our FrightFest Glasgow 2020 adventure. Thanks a million for reading our ramblings and we do plan to collaborate again on other horror content in the future, unless we get messages from you saying “PLEASE STOP”. Even then, we still might be back.

DR. LAUREN AND DARREN’S GLOSSARY OF TERMS:

HOBNOBBING: Anything ranging from a quick hello to a full night of debauchery. In this particular case, Darren had a lager, then switched up to a gin and tonic and bored the crap out of someone he’d met at the BFI the previous year.

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Happy to chat with you on your podcast/whatever if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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