Monday, March 26, 2007


Title:The Tripper
Cast: Lukas Haas, Jaime King, Jason Mewes, Marsha Thomason, David Arquette, Richmond Arquette, Paz de la Huerta, Ben Gardiner, Balthazar Getty
Director:David Arquette

The second Glasgow Fright Fest within the Glasgow Film Festival was started with the World Premiere of David Arquette’s directorial debut The Tripper. Though for such an occasion it would have been nice if the film company had seen fit to supply a copy of the film which didn’t flash up “This is the property of” every 10 minutes.

In the beginning Ronald Reagan has come to power, there are hippies protesting about logging, and one man desperately tries to just do his job so that he can get paid and buy medicine for his sick wife. Tragedy however strikes and his family is torn apart. Years later and its the present day, and the same woods, but new hippies. A dodgy love and drugs festival has been forced to move on after an incident the previous year and take up residence in these remote red wood forests. A group of friends travel to the festival in van, though one of the girl’s isn’t just paranoid because of the drugs, rather her psycho stalker ex won’t stop trying to call her. Along the way they have a run in with a group of local red necks, leading to violence. Thus, as the festival starts, and the bodies pile up, we have a selection of suspects. But just who is the madman in the Ronald Reagan mask swinging his axe?

Arquette himself appears as one of the red necks that the group of friends runs up against, and his (ex?) wife Courteney Cox is apparently in there as well, though I have to admit I have no recollection of her at all. Jaime King stars as Samantha the girl with the psycho ex, while Marsha Thomason provides the best friend part. Lukas Haas is Samantha’s sensitive but stoned new boyfriend, and Jason Mewes is just typecast.

The Tripper has its moments. There is certainly some humour in the masked ex-president. But overall its just kind of average really.


Cast: Carol J. Clover, Debbie D, Erik Marcisak, Fred Vogel, Bill Zebub
Director:J.T. Petty

JT Petty has directed a couple of horror films. Interested in the nature of horror, of voyeurism, and how these things make people feel he decided to make a documentary. In particular he decided to make a documentary about a peeping tom who was caught in his home town. After securing funding and starting film Petty was then surprised to find that the peeping tom in question didn’t actually want to have anything to do with his film. The documentary starts on that basis, and continues as Petty flounders in his attempts to find something else to make a film about instead.

So his next stop is a convention for underground horror fans. There he meets directors, actresses and fans of low budget and fantasy fulfilment horror films. Some of which are particularly borderline, which is where he was particularly interested. Along the way he meets a director who makes home made films under the title “S&Man” (sandman). Each new episode has the same basis, the director finds a girl, and follows her, filming her all the time. After stalking her for a while he will then find someway to get close to her and kill her. Are these the documentation of serial killings or imitation snuff movies?

There is something unpleasant about watching S&Man, mixed in with commentaries by experts and colourful characters, it’s the S&Man material that we keep coming back to. Through the film Petty tries to get the film maker to explain what he is doing, to explain his techniques, to let him talk to his “actresses”, but he is evasive, and increasingly hostile. The film has a strong level of ambiguity - is what we are seeing real? Are these real murders? Are these even real films? Even the conclusion that Petty provides leaves doubt, and while there is no real desire to see the film again, there is that slight wish that you could rewind the last 5 minutes and make sure you catch what he says about what his goals were and what he has done to meet them.

If you look at IMDB there is a list of people who appear in the film - Carol J Clover, Debbie D, Bill Zebub, and Fred Vogel. All listed as “himself” or “herself”, as you would expect for a documentary. However, the telling part is Eric Rost, the maker of the S&Man DVDs, who is listed as being played by Erik Marcisak. So it becomes clear, Petty has manipulated the viewer into thinking something was real, to explore the emotions involved. Or perhaps having committed to delivering a film he felt that he was forced to make something up to meet his obligations? Regardless, the result of this contribution to the second Glasgow Fright Fest was discomfort, and the film didn’t particularly go down well with the audience. But to a degree that was the point.


Title:The Messengers
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Evan Turner, Theodore Turner
Director:Oxide Pang Chun/Danny Pang

After teen Jess (Kristen Stewart) has got herself into trouble that has shaken up the entire family, she is not allowed to forget it. With the resultant financial problems, her father Roy (Dylan McDermott) decides that the best thing to restore the family’s flagging fortunes is to buy the most obviously haunted house in the middle of nowhere that he can find. Having picked a run down sunflower farm, Roy, Jess, the mother Denise (Penelope Ann Miller) and the mute younger brother Ben (Evan Turner) all make the big move. But as Ben watches things move around that no one else can see, things start to bleed into Jess’s reality, deeply horrific things. Of course, having been the bad girl, no one believes her, and while her brother can see them better than she can, he doesn’t speak.

The Messengers is one of those horror films which is a bit of this and a bit of that. Flocks of crows hang around the house in malevolent fashion like a version of The Birds. The house and the lingering influence of the past takes on the feel of The Amityville Horror. The elements are all combined and put through contemporary twists, that give it a more modern and Asian feel. Which isn’t entirely surprising, given that it is the American debut of Hong Kong directors the Pang Brothers. For me The Eye is one of the creepiest films I have ever seen, and I’ve yet to find a film by the Pang Brothers disappointing.

The vocal crowd from the London Fright Fest visiting the Glasgow Film Fest seemed to find The Messengers disappointing . Perhaps because it was the lowest rated film of the day’s films, with the lowest blood and gore content? But for my money, it was the only film in the selection of 5 that I have actually found gave me chills. Not up to the standard of The Eye, but certainly little shivers went up as dead things crawled along the walls.

Trailers for this film have now started showing in the UK, they are horrible, and should be avoided if possible. There is too much of a trend in trailers to show too much, to strip scenes of suspense and context, so that by the time that you see the film it all feels lacklustre. I am glad I saw it blind.


Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi
Director:John Stockwell

A bus hurtles along precarious country roads in Brazil, full of locals and a handful of daring tourists. Taking a corner too fast, the bus loses the road, and crashes, the passengers, desperately climbing out, before it goes tumbling down the hillside. Sat by the road side a couple of English guys hit on a couple of American girls, the brother of one of the girls distracted by an Australian girl. Given the choice of sitting by the roadside for a replacement bus, or following the trail down to the beach bar, the group go for the bar. There they drink, they dance, and while the English guys fail to make headway with the American girls, they are a big hit with the locals. But when the group wake up groggy in the morning, its clear they have been drugged, and all their money and belongings have been taken. However its only after that, that things really start to get nasty.

Turistas was shown as part of the Glasgow Film Festival’s Fright Fest, and will apparently open in the UK in the summer of this year. Though when it does it will do so under the name Paradise Lost, one of those foolish name changes that some people thing have to be made to make a film work better for the market. In some ways Turistas works to the clichés of the tourist slashers, like Hostel - group of spoilt kids hit deepest darkest where ever and bad things happen. Turistas has the benefit of being pretty and shiny, and the underwater cavern scenes are particularly striking and memorable.


Title:Motel Hell
Cast: Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod
Director:Kevin Connor

While the opening film of the Glasgow Fright Fest, Trippers, might have working off the influence of 80’s horror, Motel Hell which finished the festival was a new print of a little seen 80’s horror. Farmer Vincent runs Motel Hello in a small town, the “O” of hello blinks out leaving the sign saying “Motel Hell”, but visitors still come. Farmer Vincent is also well known for his smoked meat, which are popular throughout the state. What is Vincent’s secret? Well, obviously he kills people! Goes out every night and lays traps for them, and does bad things to them. Though things are complicated when one of the survivors of an accident caused by Vincent is blonde and attractive, and instead of killing her, he takes her into the family home, and of course, its only a matter of time before she finds out the truth. Motel Hell is a somewhat tongue in cheek horror film. Black and bleak, but naughty with it. The element of the absurd that runs through it, culminating in a chainsaw duel, makes it clear that there are laughs to be had here.

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