After Thursday's manic rush I would probably have stayed in bed a few more hours on Friday and skipped the first film were it not for that film being Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut - my most anticipated film of the festival. So there I was at 9am shambling through Leicester Square like the walking dead trying to locate a Tesco's to pick up a bit of breakfast snackage in a hopeless attempt to rouse myself. At this point I was, at the back of mind, wondering whether this whole film festival lifestyle was for me after all. Nightbreed was going to have to deliver big...
Thankfully it did. Having never seen Nightbreed in its butchered theatrical cut it's hard for me to compare and make any statement as to whether the Cabal Cut is superior however I cannot imagine the film without ANY of the inserted footage and so surely that has to say something for it. The sentence may not make a lot of sense to people who know little about the project, I understand - How could I distinguish between the theatrical footage and the new footage? Well the "new" footage is recently recovered from long thought lost VHS tapes - not publicly released and mastered VHS tapes - but rough cuts for internal studio use (and trust me when I say that 20-odd years is not kind to VHS tapes left on the shelf gathering dust). Therein laid the problem for The Cabal Cut for most of the audience and myself to a degree. There's LOTS of new footage here from multiple sources and it's often a real strain on the eyes to focus on just what is happening in the shot. Combined with the constantly readjusting aspect ratio (which sometimes clipped over the top of the screen), the timestamps which appeared from time to time and the muffled sound it was hard to fully immerse yourself in the film. As the restoration director Russell Cherrington said prior to the screening though if we love the story we should be able to get past the disrepair of the image and it's a real privilege to have seen this film which could have quite sadly gone forever abandoned. It truly feels like a horror version of Star Wars by the time the credits role and I can't help but think that if only the film hadn't been chopped up and subsequently flopped at the Box Office we might have had a really great series of films under the Nightbreed name. For now though we have the Cabal Cut, a film well worth tracking down whilst its doing festival rounds before its Blu Ray release hopefully coming in the next couple of years.
Next up was an interview with Italian director Dario Argento - master of the Giallo film. Though the interview suffered a little bit from the language barriers in play there was more than a few interesting questions asked from Total Film's Jamie Graham, and certainly some interesting answers from Argento. One such anecdote involving Rutger Hauer, a bush and a young Russian girl being a particular highlight. The real let down for this (and its something the rest of the festival suffered from as well) was in fact the poor Q&A questions asked by the audience. Time and time again we were subjected to people coming up to the mic simply to profess their love for whoever was on stage, or to ask such inane questions as "Who are your biggest influences?" simply so that they could haul some free swag. Of course there is no way to truly counter these sorts of things, but the audience on the whole needs to take more effort to construct meaningful questions in order to earn their posters or t-shirts.
The films continued later on with Hidden in the Woods, a Chilean made piece which was one of those rape-centric films I talked about in Thursday's round up. Extreme, incomprehensible and on the whole a story not worth telling. I don't really care to talk about the film any more than that.
V/H/S was the first film of the evening and coming into the festival I had high hopes for it. When it finally came to watching the film I wasn't a fan. It's not so much the film that's so bad, I just feel that the overall concept of the film is a missed opportunity when compared to the finished product. The idea of someone stumbling a collection of VHS tapes full of scares should be nostalgia and creepy gold. Instead of making the anthology of films a mix of realistic, spine-chillers and paranormal mindfucks, all the mini-films are boring slashers starring detestable teenagers. There's no connection between any of the events in the videos, and even worse still one of the videos is in fact a recorded Skype conversation. Why even bother having them on VHS tapes? It makes no sense if all the film was recorded in the digital era. No logic, no fun, a truly wasted effort.
[REC]3: Genesis was a thankfully much better film than the previous two that day. Although opinion was split as to whether the foray into comedy was a good idea for the franchise (and I had my doubts myself) the film pulls it off effectively, as well as its romantic moments which I think worked really well into the realism of the franchise. I really hope to see the two leads return in [REC]4 in some capacity, ensuring that the film is not simply forever deemed as the red headed step child of the family, because it really deserves more than that. My only qualm here was being sat behind somebody wearing a large trucker cap which conveniently managed to cover the entirety of the subtitles from any comfortable viewing position.
Closing out the night was Stitches starring comedian Ross Noble as a killer clown. Whilst it was no classic, it was a more than competent entry into the horror comedy genre featuring some inventive kills and a surprisingly likeable cast of teenagers. Sure some of the jokes were a little Inbetweeners-lite and Ross Noble's brand of humor was underused, but it was certainly enjoyable and a great little film to go home on.