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[personal profile] karohemd
The Fantastic Films Weekend is an annual film festival concentrating on Horror, SciFi and similar genres in Bradford.


The first event was the Fantasma symposium with talks from various experts on a variety of subjects from Italian horror films via the image of the vampire in films/popular culture and its history to musings about the fantastic in films in general.
Here are a few photos:

Fantasma - Mark Goddard
Mark Goodall, organiser

Fantasma - Ian Hunter
Ian Hunter on British sex films

Fantasma - David Robinson
David Robinson on The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

Fantasma - Russ Hunter
Russ Hunter on Italian Horror Films

Fantasma - Gail-Nina Anderson
Gail-Nina Anderson on Dracula's Cape

Fantasma - Jeremy Dyson
Jeremy Dyson on Shadows and Fog

My first film was in fact a selection of short films of which Arbeit für alle was the highlight. A really good and funny German film. The Image was a bit artsy for my taste, Island had no plot, Killer Display had a neat idea, The Cicerones was weird, and Salvage was a nice little bit of SciFi in space (the only one this weekend).

Next, the Fulci classic Lizard in a Woman's Skin which was clearly the product of various acid trips but still enjoyable.

The final film of the day was Zone of the Dead, a pretty run off the mill zombie film but with good production values and reasonable acting. Nothing special but enjoyable.

Steve Brooke Smith
Steve Brooke Smith, cinematographer of ZotD


First up was the excellent Three Cases of Murder. All three segments were good but the first one fit the bill best (painting coming to life). Highly recommended and reasonably easy to catch as it's now out on DVD.

Then there was Shadow, a reasonably new film, somewhere between Jacob's Ladder, 70's slasher and Hostel. Rather violent and gory so if torture porn isn't your thing, it's not for you. I didn't have many problems with it, just the luscious, deep deciduous forest that was supposed to be in Iraq(!).

Next up, the seminal and by now traditional Horror Express with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and randomly, Telly Savalas as a Kosak captain (not a Hammer production but an Italian one). Good, cheesy fun.

Staying with low-budget cheese, we watched The Giant Spider Invasion next and that was hilarious, too. Again, mucho pseudo science about black holes and gamma radiation. The giant spider monster was one of the best props ever and the acting was on par, too. Big kudos to them for using real spiders (tarantulas etc.) for the smaller ones, though. Very good fun and everybody loved it.

After a break, I attended the screentalk with Michael Armstrong, director of Mark of the Devil, House of the Long Shadows etc. It was really interesting and entertaining, Armstrong is a very charming and funny character. He talked about The Image, his first short film (also at the FFW), obv. a lot about Mark of the Devil as that was shown afterwards and other projects as well as one (prompted by an audience member) about a planned documentary with the Sex Pistols.

The above mentioned Mark of the Devil was next and rather disappointing. Obv. a low budget affair and far from being as shocking or visceral as he wanted us to believe during his talk. A bit rubbish really but not too bad. Udo Kier (who's recently been in most of Uwe Boll's films) was quite good.
I just had to giggle when during the opening credits Herbert Fux was mentioned who I and many Germans my age and older will associate with really bad (sex) comedies during the late 70s/early 80s so to see him in a rather serious role (one of the torturers/executioners) was odd. He's done serious stuff since but I think his main image is that of being in bad comedy flicks.

Michael Armstrong
Michael Armstrong

We had a gap before the midnight screamer so went for a couple of drinks.

Back in time for midnight, we briefly met James Nguyen, director of Birdemic, who signed coathangers for us (this will become important later on).
Birdemic: Shock and Terror is a remarkable, hard to describe film. It's equally the worst and best film ever made. With a budget of $10,000, rubbish actors, guerilla camera action and the worst CGI in movie history (painted CGI birds that aren't even animated properly), it's a specatcle that has to be seen to pass any judgment on. It already has a cult following in the US and is somewhat of a phenomenon.
The director stayed for a chat with Tony Earnshaw which was just as unbelievable as the film. He clearly is blinkered and genuinely believes he's made a good film, a "romantic thriller" at that. A really nice and charming guy, though, and I am looking forward to the sequel.

James Nguyen
James Nguyen

James Nguyen

Tony Earnshaw and James Nguyen

the audience listening to the interview
The audience listening to the interview.


Sunday started with Psycho. A new digital print combined on the big screen was perfect for appreciating the superb cinematography properly. Absolutely wonderful.

After that, I watched two bits in TV Heaven (Children of the Stones - sadly only two eps - and Dark Season - which was very 80s cheese by RTD).

Patrick was next, excellent thriller with a psychokinetic coma patient.
Is it just me or did the doctor have a rather striking resemblance to the Albino from Mark of the Devil? I checked on imdb, it's not the same actor.

Then another Screentalk with Stanley A. Long about his career, his films, difficulties with (and bribing of) censors and anecdotes of Roman Polanski and other people he's worked with. Another very enjoyable talk with a great character. I also loved that his assistant looked like a Eastend gangster. ;o)

Stanley A. Long

Stanley A. Long and Michael Armstrong

Stanley A. Long signing his book
signing his book for [personal profile] pmoodie

His Screamtime, a collection of three shorts written by Michael Armstrong, was next and indeed excellent. I will never look at garden gnomes the same way again...

That ran straight into The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue which was hilariously cheesy and a fitting end to the festival.

All in all, an excellent festival with excellent films, good friends old and new. Really sad it's over.

Note: All photos are released under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike licence which means you're free to repost them under the provision you don't make any money off them, credit me with a link (either to this post or the relevant flickr page) and release the photos on your page in the same way.

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