Beat has a chat to Neil Foley, Festival Director, about this regular new opportunity to be scared witless. “We’re starting doing screenings at Friday Fright Night leading up to Monster Fest in late November,” he says. “We’ve formed a partnership with Lido which is now the home of Monster Fest. It’s a brand new complex with eight screens including a rooftop cinema, 4K projectors; it’s owned by the people who own the Classic in Elsternwick and the Cameo in Belgrave. For Friday Fright Night we’ve selected a bunch of classics, as well as including new release films that might have found their way to the big screen. We’ve been looking around for films that might not be getting theatrical releases.”
The screenings at the Lido will involve locally made films and films from overseas, a gore-fest of genre films including rare cult films, locally made films, and the occasional world premiere. The opening of Friday Fright Night is The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence), accompanied by the star of Parts 2 and 3, UK actor Laurence R Harvey, who will be participating in post-screening Q&As and signings and so forth. His presence will set the tone as Friday Fright Night plans to have special guests in attendance, if not in person then via Skype hook-ups.
The screenings will involve feature films rather than shorts although Foley reckons there’s a possibility shorts could feature in future screenings. “We might look at doing some short stuff; maybe screen a short before the main feature. We’re trying to get as many films screened back to back as we can.” Friday Fright Night program details are under wraps at present but will be announced shortly. The films are selected by a curatorial team headed by Ben Hellwig (‘a massive cinephile’ says Foley) who promises an ‘all out celebration of cinematic depravity.’ The team is constantly sourcing different films, old and new, well-known and rare genre films.
So what sort of films catch Foley’s eye? “Stuff that is fresh, original with a great story line,” he answers. “Something that is scary and creepy and produces a strong reaction in the audience. We’re after stuff that moves audiences. It’s the area of cinema where the most interesting films are being made at present. Friday Fright Night gives us a vehicle in Australia to show these films you might not get a chance to see otherwise.” Has Foley noticed any trends amongst the horror films being made lately? “Not really. Horror is a mixed bag. There’s always the difference between big budget stuff and low-budget stuff, and there’s no shortage of low budget stuff.” Can he name any favourites? “I’ve got broad tastes; I like all kinds of cinema, not just a particular type. I like good stories, I like films which are engaging, compelling, with well-crafted visual story-telling – I’m always looking for compelling stories. Story is character and character is story. You can’t have a good story without it being intrinsically linked to character: the story is the journey of the character. A story is a series of events but story and character is the same thing.”
Foley emphasises that the night will offer horror aficionados a chance to see films they won’t get elsewhere. “We want to give those films a theatrical release in Australia,” he continues. “Punters will be able to see the latest greatest and rarest genre films.” There’s no mystery in the enduring appeal of horror films according to Foley. He compares watching a horror film as an adult to the childhood experience of a scary fairground ride. “You like being scared to death as a kid and it’s the same when you’re an adult. People love getting into the cinema and having the wits scared out of them while knowing they’re safe. Seeing things through the experiences of someone else is always appealing. Horror films deal with the universal fear of the unknown, fears we can’t compartmentalise, experiences we don’t have a way to rationalise. It brings us right back to the cave stories – it’s about things we don’t’ understand, that don’t fit into the natural order of things.”
BY LIZA DEZFOULI