Arrow Video FrightFest – Twenty Blood Years | Day Two – Argento on Fear, arthouse teenage angst and demonic lust

So its Day Two and the big star of the day was the legendary Dario Argento, who did a candid Q&A before a signing session for his autobiography, Dario Argento: Fear, which has been newly translated from Italian and given a slick makeover by FAB Press.

Alan Jones (Argento’s No.1 fan and long-time friend) moderated the 30-minute interview, which concentrated on the book and why Argento had decided now was the time to tell his story. Interestingly, Jones’ admitted that even though he’s a close friend of Argento’s, he learned so many new things while reading his autobiography, which covers many very personal recollections, including the Italian director’s close relationship with his photographer mother and traditionalist father, and his suicidal thoughts, which opens the book.

He also looks back at how he learned to become a film-maker not by attending film school, but by doing a Jean-Luc Godard – totally immersing himself in films (both good and bad) while studying in Paris – a time that he describes as ‘a marvellous moment in my life’. He also looks over his film career, which he also admits was quite difficult to do – even embarrassing at times. Jones ended the session by asking Argento what song would sum him up — and he got a huge round of applause and a hail of cheers when he said: My Way – the Sid Vicious version.

To pre-order the book direct from FAB Press: CLICK HERE

The queue at Cineworld Leicester Square for Dario’s signing

Now onto today’s screamings…

Just like Heathers and Dazed and Confused (two films that informs its DNA), this mystical Midwest coming-of-age drama from director Jennifer Reeder (making her feature debut) just may be a cult film in the making.

In rural Illinois, a drum majorette’s disappearance traumatises the small town residents as secrets are revealed, destroying some relationships and strengthening others. Three girls form a bond in the aftermath of the tragedy as everyone struggles with their own infidelities, dreams and family cruelties while the manhunt continues.

The FrightFest blurb describes it as ‘Sofia Coppola meets David Lynch on the set of High School Musical‘, and I tend to agree, but this teen noir fantasy stands on its own thanks to its gorgeous lighting (very giallo-esque) and costumes, and its astute feminist take on teenage angst, rage and disillusionment (as seen in the relationships between the awkward teens) and parental grief. I’m sure many may ask ‘What’s it about?’ and find it a tad pretentious (A cappella, anyone?) – but it so deserves several viewings to really get all the layered nuances. For me, it’s an assured debut with arthouse written all over it.


Director David Gregory tells the bizarre and grim demise of one of Hollywood’s exploitation bad boys. Check out my full review here.

Abe (Evan Daves) is a pervert with a guilty conscience. Todd (Larry Saperstein) is his spaced out BFF and partner in crime. Chaz (Jillian Mueller) hides her feelings behind a thick layer of Goth eye liner. Ricky (Glenn Stott) is the star jock with a secret he dare not expose. And projectionist Metal Head Jeff (Robbie Tann) has turned to Jesus to stop smoking. What these employees could never have guessed is that the wholesome movie theatre they work at had a porno past. And when they uncover and screen one of the lurid films, they unwittingly unleash a sex demon (Katelyn Pearce)…

Director Keola Racela (making his feature debut here) has crafted a hugely enjoyable slice of 1980s-style horror (set in 1992) – that’s like an R-rated Scooby Doo meets Stranger Things fantasy adventure, but with a nod to Lamberto Bava’s Demons. This is probably the most perfect film for a film festival like FrightFest as its set entirely in a cinema (although a retro one not a gleaming multiplex) and the humour draws on our love of the horror genre. The characters – all outsiders with sexually repressed desires – are well-drawn, and effortlessly executed by the talented young cast. The blood and gore is on the right side of cheese and the irreverent script doesn’t hold back on making light of right-wing Christian American ideals (thank you!). My only issue is with the title, Porno, which is a bit of a misnomer as the sex film the kids watch actually looks like its been inspired by one of Kenneth Anger’s arthouse films – most specifically, 1969’s Invocation of My Demon Brother, as the film features a satanic ritual involving a demonic incantation (very much like Anger’s). But aside from that title, I’d gladly give this one repeated viewings.

Here’s a clip to whet your appetite.

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on August 24, 2019, in American Indie, Books, Horror and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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