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DVD Review: Fangoria FrightFest 2010

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Every year, another line-up of seldom-seen horror films gets released to the home video market — usually just in time for the Halloween season. DVD sets such as After Dark Films’ After Dark Horrorfest (aka 8 Films To Die For) have often consisted of several titles imported from abroad, and have been a wonderful way to introduce gorehounds to films that they would probably never see otherwise and these collections have not gone unnoticed. But, when it comes to terror on film, there is perhaps no better outfit in the world than Fangoria to really promote the world of fear to all, both domestically and internationally. This year, the assortment of terror to keep an eye out for is the Fangoria FrightFest 2010, all of which are being distributed on DVD via Lightning Media.

Dark House (2009) – ‘80s horror icon Jeffrey Combs returns to his roots in this fun tale of evil spirits looking for fresh blood as Walston Rey, a showman who has chosen the former foster home of the late Miss Darrode (Diane Salinger) to open up a house of horrors. But the house has its own history of horror: fourteen years ago, the religious zealot Darrode butchered most of her foster children. As Walston prepares to open the doors of this Dark House to the public, his troop begins to encounter some truly deadly opposition from a handful of angry manifestations.

Fragile (2005) – Shortly after the cast and crew of Ally McBeal called it quits, actress Calista Flockheart journeyed across the pond to take part in this Spanish/UK co-production. Here, Flockheart plays Amy Nicholls, the new night nurse at the soon-to-be-abandoned Mercy Falls Children’s Hospital, who is assigned the task of preparing eight orphans to leave the hospital. Unfortunately, such a task is easier said than done — as the children are apparently being held against their will by someone or something they have dubbed the “mechanical girl.” Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, and Colin McFarlane also star.

Grimm Love (2006) – There’s tough love, rough love, and now, Grimm Love. Originally released as Rohtenburg, this German-made production takes a cue from the previous title by employing another television actress as its lead. In this case, Felicity’s Keri Russell takes center stage as Katie Armstrong, a grad student in Germany whose thesis subject — the infamous cannibal killer Oliver Hartwin (Thomas Kretschmann, whose character is inspired by real life “Internet cannibal” Armin Meiwes) — becomes a point of obsession for the poor lass. Recommended for fans of the 1996 Spanish flick, Tesis, and it’s eventual quasi-remake, 1999’s 8mm.

The Haunting (2009) – Apparently, whomever decided to re-christen this Spanish horror title (originally released as No-Do and The Beckoning) for its American release was a complete idiot. Lemme see…there have only been how many films called or containing The Haunting? Anyway, the plot here concerns kids (again) and ghosts (again). Husband and wife doctors Pedro (Francisco Boira) and Francesca (Ana Torrent) move into an abandoned boarding school to raise their new baby. Naturally, as one viewing such a film would expect (or at least hope), things start to go bump in the night in this rather convoluted film.

Hunger (2009) – OK, so maybe the genius who re-titled The Haunting wasn’t as big of an idiot as I gave them credit for, because that honor goes to the makers of Hunger, a title that has only been used a couple of dozen times. Anyway, the plot here concerns five individuals who wake up to find themselves prisoners in a dungeon somewhere. From that point on, they discover they are guinea pigs in one sadistic fuck’s equally-sadistic experiment to see what human beings will do in order to survive. If it sounds eerily reminiscent of the Saw franchise, it’s because it is, really. Guinea Pigs would have been a much better title.

Pig Hunt (2008) – And now we go from human guinea pigs to the real deal. Pig Hunt starts out as a hunting adventure with four friends from San Francisco heading into the woods to do a little huntin’ and a lot of drinkin’. Soon, though, our heroes venture into a land full of bizarre and violent yokels, a hippie cult, and a legendary three-thousand-pound killer black boar. Unlike many of the other entries in this year’s Fangoria FrightFest, the violent and very offbeat Pig Hunt ultimately benefits from having a deranged sense of humor. Easily the most enjoyable pick of the whole lot.

Road Kill (2010) – Originally released in its native Australia as Road Train, Road Kill involves a group of stupid teens who are terrorized by a killer train in the Outback. Seriously, that’s the whole film. Duel it ain’t. Hell, even Joy Ride 2 was better than this.

The Tomb (originally released as Ligeia) (2009) – And what would any assortment of horror flicks be without at least one story based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe? Our final entry in the Fangoria FrightFest 2010 focuses on a professor/writer (Wes Bentley) who is bewitched by a beauty named Ligeia (Sofya Skya), who is determined to conquer death by stealing the souls of others. Or something like that. Like many of the several hundred other Poe-inspired flicks out there, The Tomb doesn’t really strike the right chord. Eric Roberts, Michael Madsen, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa provide the proverbial B-Movie Star support here.

In addition to being released to DVD, all eight Fangoria FrightFest titles are available via Download and VOD starting September 28th. Please see www.fangoriafrightfest.com for more details and previews of each film.

Happy (scary) viewing, kids!

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
  • Anna Lioner

    So excited for the Fangoria movies to be released! Can’t wait till Halloween weekend, I’ve been stocking up on horror movies until then. Just heard about a new slasher flick called Scar 3D. Apparently it’s really gory and the practical effects are very life like. Someone even passed out from fear in theaters and the paramedics had to be called. So excited for its release!